Parakh may add more coal to the fire

Parakh may add more coal to the fire

Former Coal Secretary P C Parakh is considered the whistleblower for the  coalgate, whose whopping notional loss running to Rs 1.86 lakh crore has rocked Parliament and shocked the nation.

The BJP  and some opposition parties have been demanding the head of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held the coal portfolio for a long time during UPA-1. Even as the controversy rages and Parliament has been witnessing adjournments, Parakh has been avoiding media and busy in his non-governmental organisation work in Hyderabad.

After a lot of persuation, he told Deccan Herald: “I will put my perspective before the Parliament Public Accounts Committee, which will look into CAG report (Performance Audit of Allocation of coal blocks and augmentation of coal production). Any addition to what I have already said will be add on to the controversy,” he said.

“You see in any system of distribution which is not based on competitive bidding you are bound to various kinds of pressures and no human being can be absolutely objective in deciding when you know there are many subjective considerations which can come into picture. Therefore, there were two reasons for me to propose this change. One, we have a large number of applicants and less number of coal blocks. Second, there are all kinds of pressures coming on the screening committee because you have too may people and then naturally everybody tries to influence through various quarters in his favour. If you have competitive bidding there will be no pressure. You have a transparent way of distribution,” the former coal secretary added.

Parakh was categorical in saying that the prime minister should have chosen for a better and transparent system of distribution of coal blocks. “The prime minister could have put his weight behind to see that auction route was followed. After I took over, I put the screening committee on hold for a while to bring about a transparent system. The prime minister, instead of waiting, decided to go ahead with the old system,” Parakh pointed out.

An upright officer, Parakh resigned as the coal secretary, after he was insulted and accused of corruption by MPs at an official meeting. The PM had to persuade him to relent. However, he put in his papers the next day saying that, “our parliamentary democracy has sunk to the abyss.”

The MPs were angry at Parakh’s directive that Coal India should strictly implement its compensation policy. Under the generous policy, displaced persons were paid for land acquired for mining, as well as compensation for jobs not given. Allegedly, MPs were pushing the Coal India to the brink for creating unnecessary jobs to the already bloated staff of four- and- a- half- lakh employees.

On the top of it, the coal secretary was also being resented for his initiative of auctioning coal on the internet. This open auction earned Coal India extra Rs 300 crore, which otherwise would have gone to black marketeers.

In 2009, Parakh fought a battle at the Central Information Commission to access his own communications as the coal secretary with then cabinet secretary BK Chaturvedi for the period of 2004-05. The former coal secretary had to file an RTI application to access the files.

Parakh joined Indian Administrative Service in 1969 and was given Andhra Pradesh cadre . In Andhra Pradesh, Parakh had played an important role in the ministry of industries and instrumental in bringing in huge investments. He is involved in social service and one of the trustees of the Jain Dialysis Trust that helps poor kidney patients irrespective of caste or creed.

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