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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Coal ministry doublespeak on application figures

Abhishek Sharan , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 23, 2013
First Published: 23:56 IST(23/8/2013) | Last Updated: 02:10 IST(24/8/2013)

The coal ministry, whose coal block allocations from 1993 to 2009 are being probed for alleged irregularities by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), maintains it has no data on the number of applications received by it for allocations during 1993 to 2004.

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In his reply given to a query under the Right To Information (RTI) act, on February 28, the ministry's director (appellate authority) PSS Reddy said, "Allocations made from 1993 to 2004 were based on the identification done by the prospective allocates. Hence, no data was maintained on the number of applications received during the said period."

However, the ministry's own records say otherwise: In the July 16 meeting of the ministry's high-level committee, which was set up to review and examine the issue of missing files, when the question of "copies of all applications received for 45 coal blocks allocated from 1993-2005" being sought by the CBI was raised it held that "director (administration), ministry of coal, has been requested on May 9, 2013, to trace the records. The same may be expedited." Advocacy group Greenpeace India's researcher Sunil Dahiya had sought the information via RTI.

Reddy also said in his reply, "files, documents along with annexure, in original," pertaining to 1,422 applications received for 38 coal blocks" after an advertisement was issued in 2006 "are in the custody" of the CBI. However, according to a source, among the records the agency is still awaiting from the ministry include 19 applications, including 157 applications of private companies.


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