PM okayed two coal blocks in 24 hours, says BJP

Party finds speed of allotment unusual

PM okayed two coal blocks in 24 hours, says BJP

Seeking to turn the screws on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh further, the BJP on Tuesday questioned the speed with which two coal mines were allocated to a company on the alleged recommendation of  Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay.

Displaying a letter purportedly written by Sahay, who was then Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Food Processing Industries, BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said Sahay wrote to the prime minister on February 5, 2008, seeking his “personal intervention" in an application for two coal blocks. The PMO wrote to coal secretary on February 6 and the same day, the blocks were allotted to the company.

The minister’s letter said: “I would like to bring to your kind notice that M/s SKS Ispat and Power Limited have applied for two coal blocks for their steel plants in the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand... I shall be grateful for your personal intervention in this
matter.”

Hinting at things having moved at unusual speed, Javadekar said the PMO wrote to the coal secretary the very next day asking him to take “appropriate action” on Sahay’s letter.

According to PTI, Sahay, who is now the Tourism Minister, rubbished the allegation as “concocted and motivated” and said it is an attempt to malign him. A statement issued by Sahay’s office said he was cleared by the Delhi High Court on May 18, 2010, on the identical allegations levelled against him and his family members on the issue of allocation of coal blocks in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

The purported letter said: “Please find enclosed for action as appropriate a copy of a letter dated 5/2/07 submitted to the Prime Minister by Subodh Kant Sahai...... along with a note regarding allotment of two coal blocks to M/s SKS Ispat and Power Limited for their steel plants in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.”

Javadekar asked the Prime Minister to authenticate the letters.

Separately, the BJP MP, referring to a written reply to him by the coal minister in the Rajya Sabha, also charged that not a single mine started production out of the 70 coal blocks allocated between 2006 and 2009, claiming the decision was not made to push economic development as claimed by the government.

The MP charged that 17 billion tonne of coal reserves worth Rs 51 lakh crore were given to 142 private companies for free by the government and the Congress gained financially in the deal. BJP senior leader Sushma Swaraj spoke in a similar vein on Monday saying “motaa maal (huge sums of kickback)” went to the Congress.

The BJP, which has been disrupting Parliament for the last six days demanding resignation of the PM, who was coal minister during most of the time when blocks were allocated, charged that “there was a “black gold (coal) rush" and the PM was “eager” to oblige.

Protest

Javadekar said his party would launch countrywide protests against the Government making corruption, in particular coal scam, as the main issue.

“We are planning to take the issue to the people... party MPs have been asked to publicise it in their constituencies,” he said.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the BJP general secretaries chaired by party veteran and BJP Parliamentary Party Chief L K Advani.

Coal war

* BJP alleges PMO favoured Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay on
coal blocks allotment
* Party produces letter written by Sahay on February 5, 2008, asking PM’s personal intervention for allocation of two coal mines

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