The UPA is set for further deep embarrassment in the coal block allotment scam. It has emerged that a crucial Coal India Limited (CIL) report evaluating the financials of bidders is untraceable, as are the final minutes of a large number of meetings of the Screening Committee that allocated the blocks.
The CIL report contained financial evaluations of private developers who had applied for over 100 blocks between 2006 and 2008, a period during which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in charge of the coal ministry, with mministers of state Dasari Narayan Rao and Santosh Bagrodia.
“This report is crucial as it is only on this basis that the CBI can prove a private company had misrepresented facts to qualify for the financial criterion. Private companies linked with Dardas, Jayaswals, Jindals, Sahais, Guptas, Bagrodia and Dasari Narayan Rao all got coal blocks during this period,” said a top official.
CIL has made it known that the financial evaluation report had been given to the coal ministry.
The coal ministry had asked CIL to conduct financial verification of the private developers as there were a huge number of applications and too little time for concerned ministries to conduct independent inquiries. For instance, the power ministry has informed the CBI that on April 17, 2007, the coal ministry forwarded over 746 applications in 22 trunkloads and wanted case-by-case recommendations for some 14 coal blocks in a fortnight. The power ministry wanted more than six months to do the job, and the trunks were returned to the coal ministry, unopened.
While the importance of the CIL report lies in its utility in establishing fudging of figures, the final minutes of the committee meetings, now found to be missing, are essential to establish on what basis the blocks were allocated.
Eleven private companies including Tata Power company, Reliance Energy, SKS Ispat and Power, Green Infrastructure, Visa Power, Vandana Vidyut, GVK Govindwal Sahib and Gagan Sponge Iron were allocated coal blocks without the recommendation of the power ministry. “Since there was no recommendation of the power ministry, the final minutes will show on what basis the screening committee took a decision,” said the official.
Senior coal ministry officials told HT that files related to over 15 coal blocks allotted in 1993-2004 have also been found to be missing, possibly due to a fire in the coal ministry’s offices in Lok Nayak Bhavan in May 2011.
The latest meeting of a committee instituted by current coal minister Shriprakash Jaiswal to probe the issue of the missing files took place on Wednesday.