The ministries of coal, power and industry have drawn a big blank on all the missing 157 applications by private companies who applied coal blocks before 2004 but did not get any allocations. By all account, these applications are lost and could hamper the CBI investigation into the coal blocks allotment scam as it is crucial to know on what basis were these private companies rejected by the government.
According to carefully-drafted minutes of the meeting held on August 8 under the chairmanship of additional secretary (coal), these 157 missing applications were being sought by the CBI. Emphasising on the importance of the issue, the chair said “non-availability of records could hamper the investigation.”
At the meeting, a steel ministry representative informed the chair that it had already supplied copies of applications sought by the CBI through a letter dated April 1, 2013 and the agency had already collected the original applications. “With regard to copies of the 157 applications of companies not allocated any coal block, the steel ministry representative said they were searching for the same,” the minutes of the metting said.
The reply from the representative of the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) was much the same as he was concerned about allocations to the cement sector.
“DIPP is making efforts to locate the relevant papers and it would inform about the status very soon,” the minutes of the meeting said. The ministry of power representative, who did not make it to the meeting, was told to ask the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) about the applications.
The coal ministry representative informed that “almirahs earmarked by administration branch were searched. However, only three almirahs containing current records and mining plans were searched.
Plans are now afoot to search old records kept in coal ministry’s Loknayak Bhawan office, which is currently under renovation. Coal ministry joint secretary A K Bhalla, who was in the eye of the controversy that led to removal of former law minister Ashwani Kumar, also attended the crucial meeting.