'PM could have prevented coal scam'

'PM could have prevented coal scam'

'PM could have prevented coal scam'

Former coal secretary P C Parakh’s book claims that the multi-crore coal scandal could have been avoided if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asserted in pushing reforms in the sector.

“Yes, if the Prime Minister had used his authority behind the reforms proposal, the scam could have been avoided,” he said while talking to reporters after the release of his book on Monday.

Auction of coal blocks in open market and e-marketing of coal, as proposed, would have ensured that there was no scam, he said, adding that these proposals have not been implemented by the government.

Parakh wrote that former minister Shibu Soren wanted to reinstate N K Sharma as chief of Coal India. Sharma was suspended during NDA’s Karia Munda’s regime for complaints of irregularities in the procurement of capital equipment and explosives for Coal India. But when Sashi Kumar was considered instead, Parakh says the ministers demanded bribe money.

“Soren and Rao pestered Kumar for monthly payments which he resisted. Just before the interview, an approach was made to him on behalf of MoS Rao for payment of Rs 50 lakh, but he refused,” wrote Parakh.

 “Private Secretaries of two ministers met Kumar over dinner to convince him to agree to the ministers’ demand. At the minimum, they suggested that he become a channelising agent for funds to be received from CMDs of Coal India subsidiaries.., but Kumar refused”.

 After the interview, Kumar’s file was cleared by Central Vigilance Commission and his file was submitted to Rao. But Rao returned the file seeking further investigation against Kumar for his alleged role in procurement of explosives for Coal India. CVC cleared his file again, but Rao recommended rejecting him. Soren, as the Cabinet minister, approved this decision, says Parakh, adding at this juncture he had no option but to place the matter before the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

“The ministers took serious umbrage to my referring the case to the ACC. I was called the next day to explain why the second name in the panel was not proposed for consideration and how the proposal could be sent to the Department of Personnel and Training when the minister had already rejected the recommendation of PSEB.”

 Parekh says there was pressure on him to re-consider the second name. Meanwhile, Soren resigned to take over as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved Sashi Kumar’s appointment, “overruling” Rao’s and Soren’s opinion.

 “The Prime Minister could do so because Mr Soren had resigned. I doubt if this would have been possible if Mr Soren was minister,” wrote Parakh.

  According to the book, the deep-rooted corruption in the coal ministry was not only restricted to the Congress-led UPA government. It was prevalent during the NDA regime led by the BJP.

 Apart from coal ministers Soren and Rao of UPA, Kariya Munda and Mamata Banerjee of NDA are also named in the book.

Asked about the CBI FIR against him and industrialist Kumaramangalam Birla, Parakh said, “CBI said there was a conspiracy, I am not saying there was a conspiracy, but if CBI thought there was a conspiracy then conspiracy has to be between people who take decisions. So you had Prime Minister who has finally taken the decision. So, if I am a part of conspiracy he (PM) has to be a part of the conspiracy.”

Parakh’s sensational revelations, coming amid the Parliamentary elections, caused the Congress party to claim that the BJP is behind the book.

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