The Central Bureau of Investigation is set to question former coal secretary PC Parakh next week in connection with its probe into alleged irregularities in the 2005 allocation of Odisha’s Talabira-2 coalfield to Hindalco.
In its FIR dated October 2013 against Parakh, Hindalco, and Aditya Birla group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, the CBI had alleged that an inter-ministerial screening committee had recommended the allocation of Talabira-2, in Jharsuguda district of Odisha, to the Tamil Nadu-based public sector unit Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) under the government dispensation scheme.
But after a meeting between the accused firm’s representative and Parakh, the latter had allegedly allowed Hindalco to share the coalfield at the expense of NLC.
"When we question Parakh next week, he will be asked to explain the rationale behind his decision to overturn, alter the screening committee’s recommendation and why he had not sought its approval while overturning its decision," said a CBI official.
Parakh, in his turn, told HT, "I have already explained the rationale in my book ‘Crusader or Conspirator -Coalgate and Other Truths’, to the CBI, and will tell the CBI again." Asked if the final allocation decision bore his signature, he said, "All coal block allocations were done with the approval of then coal minister".
Parakh added while Hindalco’s end-use project got commissioned, the NLC project got finally shelved because NLC did not find it financially viable due to Odisha government’s demands. He has also contested CBI’s claim that the coalfield was meant exclusively for state-owned entities.
The CBI had booked Parekh, Hindalco and others on charges of corruption and criminal conspiracy and abuse of official position. The CBI probe has ruled out any quid pro quo in the case so far.
The agency recently questioned a few top executives of Hindalco. Regarding the CBI probe, the group has said, "We wish to state unambiguously that we have followed every process required for allocation of coal."