The former Coal Secretary, P.C. Parakh, said on Wednesday that if he was named a conspirator in the coal scam case, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was a party to the conspiracy because he had approved his recommendation to allocate a coal block to Hindalco, a company of the Kumar Mangalam Birla-led Aditya Birla Group.

Mr. Parakh, 68, a retired IAS officer of the Andhra Pradesh cadre, termed the CBI’s charges against him baseless and shocking. In its First Information Report, the investigating agency alleged that Mr. Parakh had re-considered his decision on a coal block allotment to Hindalco in his capacity as screening committee chairman as part of a criminal conspiracy to favour the company.

Speaking to The Hindu at his residence here, Mr. Parakh said it was true there were two equally eligible applicants: Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC), a public sector undertaking; and Hindalco. The screening committee made the first recommendation in favour of the NLC but the decision was reviewed when the PMO forwarded Mr. Birla’s representation for reconsideration.

He said: “I found there was merit in his case. Hindalco was the first applicant and had the financial and technical competence and also a project on hand. I supported the allotment of the coal block to Neyveli [NLC] as it was a PSU. After reconsidering the case, to be fair to two companies which were equally competent, we decided to accommodate both.

“As Hindalco could not be given a block under government dispensation, we allotted the said coal block from the captive list and allotted another block outside the captive list to the PSU.”

Asked what he made out of the CBI’s allegation, Mr. Parakh said there was no case at all and he would come out clean. If at all, the CBI might blame him for a wrong decision. But a wrong decision would not amount to conspiracy or corruption, and the CBI had no evidence to prove its conspiracy theory. He felt the CBI was unable to make a distinction between a fair and correct decision made in the public interest and something which was malafide.

Clarifying that Mr. Birla had met him only once at his office, he said there was no pressure at all from the PMO to review the decision. “As the Coal Secretary, I made a recommendation and the Prime Minister, who was also holding coal portfolio, agreed with it. He could have overruled my recommendation. If the CBI says I am wrong, the Prime Minister is also wrong.”

“My two years of work in the Coal Ministry was appreciated as I brought transparency into the system and ensured that entire geological information was available on the website to prospective applicants. Otherwise, people used to surreptitiously scout…” for coal blocks, he said.

Arguing that the coal mining rights allocation would not have come under a cloud, had the government adopted auction, Mr. Parakh said he made a strong pitch for bidding, but it was opposed by the then Coal Minister, Shibu Soren, and his deputy Dasari Narayana Rao.


Coal scam: CBI told to probe further into Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda's roleNovember 20, 2014

‘Unfair to blame PM for decisions taken by babusOctober 19, 2013

Congress trying to water down probe in coal scam: BJP October 19, 2013

PMO defends allocation of coal block to Hindalco October 19, 2013

Parakh’s links to Hyderabad firm under scanner October 20, 2013

Ready for questioning by CBI, says Manmohan October 24, 2013

PM should quit and face CBI probe, says BJPOctober 25, 2013

PMO hands over Hindalco file to CBI October 25, 2013

Supreme Court rejects plea to include PM in coal FIROctober 29, 2013

PM could have averted coal scam: ParakhApril 14, 2014

SC for special PP to examine closure reports in coal caseJuly 9, 2014

Coal block allocations since 1993 illegal: Supreme CourtAugust 25, 2014

Power stocks fall up to 7 p.c. on SC order on coal allocationAugust 26, 2014

Coal scam: CBI pulled up over ‘hurry’ in filing closure report against K.M. BirlaSeptember 12, 2014

Enough evidence in coal scam case, says CBINovember 10, 2014

How can there be quid pro quo, asks ParakhOctober 20, 2013

No wrong done, says Kumar Birla October 18, 2013

CPI(M) flays Anand Sharma for defending industrialistOctober 18, 2013

Manmohan cannot be kept out of CBI probe: JaitleyOctober 18, 2013

Capable officers, business leaders can’t be made scapegoats: India Inc. October 18, 2013

Naveen defends letter on HindalcoOctober 18, 2013

U-turn on allocation of coal block to Hindalco points to PMOctober 17, 2013

Don’t play to the gallery, Anand Sharma tells CBIOctober 16, 2013

Bid to deflect focus from wrongdoers:ex-CAG officialOctober 16, 2013

Had govt accepted Parakh’s suggestion, scam would not have occurred: BJPOctober 16, 2013

BJP is ‘self-firing automatic weapon full of blanks’: TewariOctober 16, 2013

The cat is out of the bagMay 1, 2013

We have followed every process: HindalcoOctober 16, 2013

Parakh should disclose how coal blocks were allotted: Sinha October 16, 2013

P.C. Parakh — from mining geologist to Coal SecretaryOctober 17, 2013

Under fire, government takes sub judice cover October 17, 2013

FIR against Kumar Birla, ex-Secretary October 15, 2013

More In: National | News