Coalgate could have been averted if PM had pushed reforms: Parakh

Former Coal Secretary P C Parakh Monday claimed that the multi-crore coal block allocation scam could have been avoided if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asserted in pushing reforms including open bidding of coal blocks.

PTI| Updated: Apr 14, 2014, 21:23 PM IST

New Delhi: Former Coal Secretary P C Parakh Monday claimed that the multi-crore coal block allocation scam could have been avoided if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asserted in pushing reforms including open bidding of coal blocks.

"Yes, if the Prime Minister had used his authority behind the reforms proposal it (scam) could have (been avoided)," Parakh told reporters after release of his book "Crusader or Conspirator: Coalgate and other Truths".

Parakh, who has been accused in one of the FIRs by the CBI probing Colagate, was responding to questions from reporters whether the scam could have been avoided if reforms had been pushed through by the government.

Auction of coal blocks in open market and e-marketing of coal, as proposed, would have ensured that there was no scam.

Asked about the FIR against him in connection with allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odhisa, 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," he said.

Parakh was named in an FIR by the CBI with Kumarmanglam Birla for allegedly entering into a conspiracy to get the coal block allocation in favour of Hindalco.

On undermining the authority of the Prime Minister, Parakh said besides ministers including Shibu Soren and D S Rao, MPs cutting across the party lines were responsible for scuttling the reforms in the coal ministry.

68-year-old Parakh, who retired from the service in December 2005, however, also said whatever forward movement was achieved by him during his stint as Coal Secretary was only when the Prime Minister was incharge of the ministry.

"When I was in Coal ministry, Prime Minister gave me full support. Whatever changes had come in the Coal ministry it is because of Prime Minister. He also supported reforms in the Coal ministry. We were able to get a lot of work done because of proactive role of Manmohan Singh," he said.

The book, released by retired Supreme Court judge G S Singhvi and former Cabinet Secretary T S R Subramanian today, was in the making for last two-three years and has nothing to do with the timing of Lok Sabha polls, he said.

"I have been writing the book for last two-three years. But after the CAG report and CBI probe, I have just added one chapter to it," Parakh said in reply to a question about his book being released during elections and coming close on the heels of launch of the controversial book by Sanjaya Baru, former Media Advisor to the Prime Minister.

Parakh, who had worked between March 8, 2004 to December 31, 2005 as Coal Secretary, hoped CBI will give him a clean chit after completion of investigation.

"That (it will be closed) is my assessment," was the reply by Parakh when asked by PTI on the outcome of CBI's FIR.

CBI had in October last year registered a case against Parakh and industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla on charges of criminal conspiracy and corruption in connection with alleged irregularities in the allocation of two coal blocks in Odisha in 2005.

Birla had rejected allegations levelled against him by CBI.

Meanwhile, Justice (Retd) G S Singhvi threw his weight behind Parakh.

He said the three pillars of democracy-- political executive, judiciary and bureaucracy-- should consider themselves as servants of the people as enshrined in the Constitution.

"Unfortunately, in last 65 years trustees and servants have become the masters and that is why Mr Parakh was compelled to write this book. We are servants of people-- the politcial executive, the bureaucracy, judiciary-- and if we could have understood this, our nation would have been different," he said lauding the ex-Coal Secretary's latest book.

Singhvi said its was distressing to see that corrupt people are "worshipped" in recent times.

Parakh's family members also supported him for his "honest work" and hoped he will be given a clean chit by CBI.

"Our entire family, including me, have always supported him for all his decisions," said Usha, Parakh's wife.

Parakh's daughter said she felt encouraged by her father.

"As a family, I feel very encouraged. I have read the book and I feel it is a really interesting read for the coming generation and rest of us.

"It (book) is truly a reflection of a person he has always been we have known for 40 years. He tells the truth as it is. He is a totally unbiased person. It (book) speaks about the truth," Sushmita Ramakrishnan told PTI on the sidelines of the launch.

Sushmita said she felt shocked after coming to know about CBI's FIR against her father.

"I got to know little late. I was in Hrishikesh. Yes initially of course there was a deep sense of shock. But I think as a family, we are very strong. It is about doing the right thing. I dont think of consequences in doing the right thing and so is he (her father)," she said.