27 out of 57 blocks allotted to private companies between 2005 and 2009 are in the State

Apart from companies close to the former Jharkhand Chief Minister, Madhu Koda, which were allotted coal blocks, firms recommended by the Arjun Munda-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in that State could also face the heat in the ongoing probe. Jharkhand is under the scanner of various probe agencies as out of 57 coal blocks allotted to private companies between 2005 and 2009, 27 are in this mineral-rich State.

While the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is currently evaluating the documents of the five firms against which FIRs have been lodged to find out whether they produced fake or forged documents to get the coal blocks, the Income Tax Department has forwarded to the Union Finance Ministry data related to firms that got coal blocks in Jharkhand following recommendations from Mr. Koda (Independent MLA who was Chief Minister between 2006 and 2008 after getting support from the Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Rashtriya Janata Dal) and Mr. Munda (between 2003 and 2005, 2005-06, and from 2010 onwards).

As many as 50 coal blocks were allotted between 2006 and 2009 in Jharkhand, and those allotted to firms such as JAS Infrastructure (Mahuagarhi block) and Vini Iron & Steel Udyog Ltd. (Rajhara North coal block) have already been named in the FIRs, while a few more would fall into the CBI net soon. Apart from probing the financial transactions of these firms, the Income Tax Department is also looking into the operations of other firms that got coal blocks from the State government.

Captive use of blocks

Sources in the Finance Ministry said the IT Department sleuths have informed that almost all the companies that were allotted coal blocks have tied up with the Jharkhand government for captive use of coal blocks. Except for a few leading industrial houses, a majority of private players failed to honour the terms and conditions of the MoUs and no process of installation of captive use of coal has started.

It is learnt that the sleuths have already searched the offices of some companies in six cities including Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Ranchi and Kolkata and collected some “incriminating” evidence that would help take the probe forward. “We have found that some of these companies only operated on papers… after getting coal blocks following joint ventures with the State governments, they outsourced jobs to either their subsidiaries or to other private firms. We are evaluating these data which we are also likely to share with the CBI,” a senior official said.