Govt to Departments: Locate missing coal files on urgent basis

With disappearance of several coal block allocation files kicking up a political controversy, all government departments have been ordered to locate the missing papers at the earliest.

New Delhi: With disappearance of several coal block allocation files kicking up a political controversy, all government departments have been ordered to locate the missing papers at the earliest.

The departments asked to relocate missing files include steel, power, law and justice and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.

Coal India and its subsidiary, Central Mine Planning Design Institute (CMPDI), which are believed to have records of all mines allocated, have also been directed to trace the missing files on an urgent basis, government sources said.

Moreover, the record rooms of Coal Ministry at Shastri Bhawan and Lok Nayak Bhawan are being digged out frenetically to locate the missing files. Search is also on at Coal India`s Laxmi Nagar office for the same as a large number of files pertaining to allocation of 45 coal blocks between 1993 and 2005 are missing, they said.

This includes 2 files of the Screening Committee meeting of 1993 and before, presentations by companies and 157 applications of non-successful companies.

Sources said that Ministry of Power has also been asked to locate the 157 applications, belonging to non-successful companies during this period.

Earlier in Rajya Sabha, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said: "I would like to assure the House that my ministry would leave no stone unturned in tracing and providing the documents sought by the CBI", while adding that he was ready to undergo any punishment if his involvement was established.

He further said that a committee, headed by an Additional Secretary of his ministry, is looking into the issue of missing files and the Coal Ministry has already handed over 769 files and other documents consisting of more than 1,50,000 pages to CBI.

Meanwhile, the sources said that records of 35th Screening Committee meeting, which includes comments of experts on financial aspects of the applicants, are also among the list of missing files.

The 35th Screening Committee meeting, held during June to September, 2007 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was holding the Coal portfolio, had recommended to allocate 15 coal blocks to various companies. The names of the block include Seregarha to ArcelorMittal and GVK Power, Amarkonda Murgadangal to Jindal Steel and Power, Fatehpur to SKS Ispat and Power, Lohara West and East to Adani Power and Ganeshpur to Tata Steel.

The CBI, which has filed 13 FIRs so far in connection with allocations done during 2006-09, is supposed to file the latest status report to the Supreme Court on August 29. The agency has sought 257 files related to coal blocks allocation which have gone missing thus hampering agency`s probe into alleged irregularities.

Of this, nearly 150 are related to the period between 1993 and 2004 in which 45 coal blocks were allocated, sources said.

These files carry crucial documents like application forms, supporting documents, minutes of the screening committee meetings, objections raised by officials and other records which are crucial for the CBI for proving its case.

The file related to allocation of Bander block in Maharashtra to AMR Iron and Steel is also not traceable. Congress MP Vijay Darda had recommended the allocation to PMO, which in turn had forwarded it to the Coal Ministry. The allocation was recommended by the 36th Screening Committee.

In a communication to the government recently, CMPDI has said it does not have the copy of the minutes of 26th Screening Committee but it is trying to locate other relevant files and documents, the sources said.


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