Officials could not find the records of the recommendation made by Cong MP Darda

There could be huge embarrassment in store for the UPA II government as sensational disclosures in Coalgate have surfaced. It has now come to light that not only files and records of applications for 45 coal blocks allocated from 1993 to 2005 are untraceable but also recommendations made by Congress MP Vijay Darda and forwarded by the Prime Minister’s Office for the Bander block have gone missing.

In addition, records of 157 private companies which applied for but were not allocated blocks are missing. A number of records and documents pertaining to meetings of the Screening Committee are also missing, it was revealed at a meeting of the Search Committee constituted by the Centre following a Supreme Court directive to furnish all missing records and files to the CBI.

According to the minutes of the Search Committee meeting held on July 16 and issued on July 29, which are accessed by The Hindu, officials could not find the records of the recommendation made by Mr. Darda and forwarded by the PMO for the Bander block allocated to AMR Iron and Steel Ltd.

In connection with Coalgate, the CBI raided Mr. Darda and registered a case against him last year.

“The CBI may be informed of the missing records and the PMO requested to provide a copy of the PMO reference to the Ministry of Coal,” the meeting chaired by the Joint Secretary (Coal) decided.

During the meeting, it was revealed that copies of all applications and related papers received for the 45 blocks allocated from 1993 to 2005 were untraceable. This period pertains to the pre-advertisement era when there was no cut-off date for making applications.

The Director (Administration), Ministry of Coal, who has been entrusted with tracing these records, has been unable to do so. In the case of 157 missing applications of the private companies, it was decided that all Ministries/departments, Coal India Limited and Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited be asked to trace these records.

Access to records of the Screening Committee and the applications of the private companies is important in the chain of events as it will give an insight into the reasons for allotment or non-allotment of the blocks. The Coalgate probe is being monitored by the Supreme Court and inability to provide the missing records or files to the CBI could impact the process of investigations. It has been revealed that the final minutes of the 26th Screening Committee meeting held on May 1, 2005 were also missing. Both CIL and CMPDI were asked to locate the records. While CMPDI has said that it does not have the copy of the minutes, CIL is yet to reply.

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