Days after receiving a letter from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Friday handed over files and documents related to the controversial allocation of coal blocks to Birla group firm Hindalco to the probe agency.
With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stating that he was ready to face the CBI, the PMO also told the agency that it was ready to provide any other information about the allocation of the Talabira coal block in Odisha in 2005. Singh has defended the decision to allocate the coal block to Hindalco as “entirely appropriate” and based on the merits of the case.
The CBI had, earlier this month, registered a case against former coal secretary P C Parakh, Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and others in connection with the allocation, triggering a controversy.
Defending its decision, the PMO had issued a statement acknowledging that the final decision “differed” from the earlier recommendation of the screening committee. It released the sequence of events which suggested that the norms set by the prime minister were relaxed in view of representations made by Birla and recommendation by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. On its part, the CBI has claimed that Parakh allegedly failed to provide reasons in official files to specify any “public good” when he decided to change the screening committee’s decision and allot coal blocks to Hindalco.