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Assocham writes to PM, says concerned over CBI probe

PTI | Last Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 17:44

New Delhi: Taking a strong note of CBI slapping case against Kumar Mangalam Birla in Coalgate, Assocham has sought Prime Minister's intervention to end the "environment of distrust" which had arisen due to "half-baked cases" against industry leaders, cautioning this could further impair decision making.

"We find ourselves in a situation where half-baked cases are being slapped against top leaders of the industry and retired bureaucrats based on perceptions, interpretations and mere inferences," Assocham said in a letter to Manmohan Singh.

"We fear that more industrialists could be targets of the CBI probes which in all likelihood would not bring out any substantial evidence of any wrongdoing, but the problem is that the reputation of individual enterprises gets jolted," it said.

The CBI earlier this month filed a case against Birla as a representative of Aditya Birla Group and his group company, aluminium maker Hindalco, for alleged corruption in the allocation of Talabira-II coal blocks in Odisha which was allotted to it on November 10, 2005.

Assocham said the overall investment climate of doing business in India gets "vitiated and is marked by distrust" due to such happenings.

"Sir, we are afraid, if this environment of distrust continues, the decision making will get further hampered," it said in the letter.

Parakh, who was Coal Secretary at the time of this allocation, was also named by CBI on the matter.

"The CBI cases against well respected industrialists and former senior bureaucrats are... Something we can ill-afford at this point of time when our economy is facing a tremendous loss of investor and consumer confidence," the chamber said.

The Centre has been at the receiving end in the Supreme Court which has posed tough questions on why coal fields were allocated to private players without a transparent bidding process. It has also raised eyebrows on the slow pace of probe by CBI in coal scam case.

Wondering how inferences could be drawn if industry leaders go and meet senior bureaucrats and ministers, Assocham said amidst an environment of "mistrust and unsubstantiated allegations of scams," decision-makers could shy away from taking decisions.

"It is observed that decision-makers in the government would prefer not to take decisions, lest they are hounded by investigative agencies even after their retirement," it said.

Stressing that not all acts of "influencing" should be treated as so-called crony capitalism, Assocham said: "We find nothing wrong Sir, if a Chief Minister of a State writes to the Prime Minister favouring a particular project."

The industry body sought support from the Prime Minister "for restoration of confidence and spirit of enterprise" while emphasising that the "job of the government is not only to regulate but also to facilitate enterprise".

First Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 17:42
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