The search for the missing files that were sought by Central Bureau of Investigation in the Coalgate has hit a dead end, with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the Central Mine Planning & Design Institute Limited and the Ministries of Power and Steel virtually throwing up their hands stating they were unable to trace them.

Highly placed sources in the government said the Ministries of Steel and Power and the DIPP had conveyed to the Coal Ministry that the files or their copies being sought by it were not traceable and whatever they had in their possession was handed over either to it or the CBI directly.

Interestingly, Coal Secretary S.K. Srivastava and a search committee headed by an Additional Secretary has been informed about the adverse situation following a letter by Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati on September 2 asking the Coal Ministry to make all the files being sought by the CBI available within two weeks.

Interestingly, sources in the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) office said the missing files pertaining to the pre-2003 period were unlikely to be traced as even the CAG had a difficult time accessing them and only a handful of documents were available during audit.

However, the sources added that files and documents post-2003 were available with the CAG but the government was yet to approach it with a requisition for such records.

Officials in the Coal Ministry said the Ministry of Steel had informed the department that it had handed over 18 files directly to the CBI out of the 74 files being sought. However, the Ministry was unable to trace nearly a dozen-odd crucial files pertaining to the allocation of coal blocks and pertaining to the screening committee meetings that were very important for the investigation to progress smoothly as per the Supreme Court directions.

The Steel Ministry also conveyed to the Coal Ministry that it had located 46 files and was trying to locate 10 more. But there was no firm update on the status of the 46 files and to which period they pertained to.

In fact, the DIPP conveyed to the Coal Ministry that it would not be able to locate 20 files and the accompanying documents that had been sought. Similarly, the Ministry’s request to the Power Ministry for certain files pertaining to the allocation of coal blocks has not yielded the desired results as the Power Ministry is understood to have conveyed that it was not able to trace a number of files and search was still on.

In a statement, the Coal Ministry said it was in the process of locating the documents. At a meeting held under the chairmanship Mr. Srivastava on Tuesday, efforts to locate the documents mentioned in the lists sent by the CBI were reviewed. The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministries of Coal, Steel and Power, among others. “The CBI has been informed about the documents that could be located. An update will be furnished in the next 2-3 days and a detailed report will be submitted by September 13.

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