CBI to quiz P C Parakh in Talabira-II coal block allocation

CBI to quiz P C Parakh in Talabira-II coal block allocation

Probe into alleged irregularities in allocation of Talabira-II coal blocks has gained momentum as CBI has started questioning top executives of Aditya Birla Group and were likely to quiz former Coal Secretary P C Parakh next week.

Official sources said that some of the top executives of Rs 2.4 lakh crore Birla company were called in connection with the allocation of the coal block in Odhisa.

While there was no decision immediately to summon the group's chairman Kumarmanglam Birla, the sources said that 68-year-old Parakh is likely to be questioned next week.

CBI had registered a case naming 46-year-old Birla, Parakh and unknown officials of Hindalco and coal ministry last year under various sections pertaining to criminal conspiracy and corruption for alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks nine years back.

The decision to call executives of the Birla group was taken after a senior PMO TKA Nair was examined about the entire coal scam especially on Talabira-II.

Nair, who had replied to a CBI questionnaire, had denied any wrong doing in allocation of coal blocks to Hindalco. Registering of a case against Birla and Parakh was criticized by India Inc and former bureaucrats.

The sources said that after completing the investigations in the case, CBI would take a decision whether the agency should file a charge sheet or move a closure report in the court.

Hindalco has been denying allegations of irregularities. "We wish to state unambiguously that we have followed every process required for allocation of coal completely, as stipulated by the Government policy."

"This relates to media reports on an FIR naming Hindalco and our chairman on coal issues. Apparently, this seems to be part of a larger case entailing coal allocation to companies, and being one of the companies, we are being investigated also," it had said.

CBI alleged that during 2005, these persons entered into a criminal conspiracy and the then public servant (Parakh) abused his position and showed undue favour to the Odisha-based industry in allocation of Talabira II and Talabira III coal blocks along with a Public Sector Undertaking of Tamil Nadu.

According to the FIR, Tamil Nadu government PSU Neyveli Lignite Limited was to be given Talabira II block but Parakh allegedly favoured Hindalco and allowed it to share the block with Neyveli leading to notional loss to the exchequer.

The agency could not reach exact quantum of loss as the coal block is still not operational. The blocks were allocated for power production during a meeting of Screening Committee of the Coal Ministry, the sources said and claimed that the coal allocation was meant for PSUs only. Parakh, who was Coal Secretary at the time of this allocation, faces charges of criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act as also criminal conspiracy.

The former coal secretary recently came out with a book in which he questioned the CBI's decision to register a case against him and said if he was guilty then the Prime Minister should also have been named in the FIR.

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