The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday questioned former coal secretary HC Gupta in the coal scam probe of alleged irregularities in the allocation of captive coal blocks to private firms from 2006 to 2009 during his tenure.
According to the source, the agency investigators asked Gupta, a retired 1971-batch Indian Administrative Service officer, about alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks when Gupta had headed the inter-ministerial 35th and 36th Screening Committees.
The CBI called Gupta, who recently quit as a member of the Competition Commission of India, for questioning after acquiring sanction from the government to initiate probe against him.
“We questioned the former coal secretary for around five hours on allegations that a few accused coal block recipients had been favoured in the allocation and that their applications were not put aside despite misrepresentations and concealments,” said a CBI source.
Gupta denied the allegations, according to the source.
Today, Gupta was asked specifically about three allegedly irregular allocation of captive coal blocks to three firms---the Nagpur-based AMR Iron & Steel Private Limited, Nagpur-based JLD Yavatmal Energy Limited and Kolkata-based JAS Infrastructure Capital Private Limited---named in three separate First Information Reports (FIRs) registered by the CBI on September three last year along with “unknown public servants”, said the source.
Among the directors of the three accused firms mentioned in the CBI FIRs were businessman Manoj Jayaswal and Lokmat Group’s chairman and Congress Rajya Sabha member Vijay Darda.
AMR Iron & Steel Private Limited, which got a coal block in Maharshtra’s Bander district, had allegedly misrepresented facts about its group firm having been allocated five coal blocks earlier as on the date of its application and about equity participation by two firms.
JAS Infrastructure Capital Private Limited, which bagged Jharkhand’s Mahuagarhi coal block, had allegedly hiked its net worth to beef up its claim while JLD Yavatmal Energy Limited---which got the Fatehpur East coal block in Chhattisgarh---was accused of misrepresenting facts on eligibility conditions.
During Gupta’s tenure, 68 coal blocks were allocated to 151 firms.