Coal ministry to cooperate in probe into charges

Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said he has asked his ministry to fully cooperate with the investigating agency.

New Delhi: With CBI initiating a preliminary enquiry into alleged irregularities in mines allocation, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on Tuesday said he has asked his ministry to fully cooperate with the investigating agency.

"I have asked the officials of my ministry to support the CBI in its probe and it (CBI) should not face any problems," Jaiswal told reporters here.

On media reports that a Union minister had written a letter to the Prime Minister seeking intervention in getting mines to a company that allegedly has links with the minister`s brother, Jaiswal said, "We are not aware of it and we have not seen any such letter ... If there is any such allegation and if there is any such letter an enquiry would made into it."

He also said that a meeting would be held tomorrow to review the production of coal.

When asked about the auction of 54 coal blocks, he said, "Hopefully, it would be soon."

The CBI, which is probing alleged irregularities in coal block allocations, may examine members of screening committee which was part of the allocation process.

The CBI sources had clarified that so far they have not found involvement of any of the members of the screening committee and examination would be to clarify and understand issues involved in the allocation of coal blocks.

Coal block allocation is done through a mechanism of an inter-ministerial body called screening committee which is chaired by Coal Secretary.

The committee includes secretaries from nine ministries having interests in coal, heads of various PSUs, and Chief Secretaries of coal supplying states.

The role of screening committee is to decide on the eligibility of applicant through detailed scrutiny.

The CBI had initiated a preliminary enquiry (PE) in connection with the alleged irregularities in the utilisation and allocation of coal blocks allocated to private companies between 2006 and 2009.

The agency has registered the PE, which is the first step of initiating the CBI probe, against unknown persons in connection with a complaint referred to it by the Central Vigilance Commission.