More than four months after the CBI sought key files related to the coal block allocation scam from the coal ministry, it finally responded on Thursday saying it has already handed over a number of files to the agency and undertaken a search to locate and provide more files and documents.
The agency is still awaiting 257 key files, including 157 pertaining to various private firms who had applied for coal blocks but were irregularly eliminated, from the ministry that is allegedly hampering its probe, said a CBI source.
While the CBI director had written to the coal ministry in May and August about the missing files, the agency had written to it on April 10 (letter number 1279) seeking all coal block applications including the 157 missing applications of unsuccessful applicant firms, the source said.
In a letter dated 5 May, a senior coal ministry official wrote that the “CBI is pressing hard” for the coal block applications including those of unsuccessful applicants. The agency suspects that the 157 firms were eliminated to favour applicants who had dubious eligibility profile.
“The coal ministry has written to us today saying it has provided substantial number of files already and is currently searching for more files with the help of other ministries,” said the source. According to the source, the ministry did not state that the files have gone missing.
The government has set up a high-level committee to review and examine the issue of the missing files, the source said. In its “first meeting” held on July 16, which was attended by six senior officials including additional secretary (coal) AK Dubey and joint secretary (coal) AK Bhalla, the committee bunched the missing files under 13 categories.
The committee, however, allegedly “rejected the option of obtaining records from applicants” said the source. The source said, “It was decided in case of unsuccessful applicants, the power ministry should try to trace the same if those were sent to them.”