More skeletons in Jindal closet
The latest revelations by the CBI stating that the Jindal Group had allegedly misrepresented facts in order to incur favour from the Ministry of Coal, particularly the Minister of State for Coal, Dasari Narayan Rao, the co-accused in the FIR, indicate the level of corruption that had been resorted to by the steel and power tycoon, who is also an MP from the Kurukshetra constituency in Haryana. The top probing body’s recent statements clearly point out that undue favour was given to the Jindal Group companies -- Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) and Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd (GSIPL), even though the Ministry of Power was against the proposal for allocating Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to the firms. In the revelations, it has come to light that DS Rao had written to the government of Jharkhand a letter dated 20 June 2007, wherein he had stressed on allocating the said coal block to three companies, out of which two - JSPL and GSIPL - had misrepresented in their application the level of preparedness in setting up the proposed end used plant (EUP). Not only did the said firms misquote their preparedness to the ministry of coal in the Jharkhand government, but also to the Screening Committee, which decided the final names after going through the shortlisted firms. Thus, DS Rao, overruling warnings from not one but two institutions, that is the ministry of power and the screening committee, went ahead to sanction the coal blocks to the Jindal Group firms, in stark effrontery to the recommendations.
In the wake of the fresh expositions by the CBI, it becomes evident that the Jindal Group had resorted to extreme measures to arm-twist the government machinery into submitting to his whims and fancies and unethically procure the coal blocks even though their preparations fell far short of adequate. Obviously, there are more skeletons in the Jindal closet, which has been mired in controversies not only in the state of Jharkhand, but also in Chhattisgarh, where the industrial house had forcibly acquired land from tribals to set up residential colonies for the employees of one of their firms. Further, Jindal Group is involved in mining irregularities in more than one state, and its proposed 1000 MW captive power plants that were supposed to be set up in Patratu and Dumka districts in Jharkhand are already sunk in the quagmire of rampant corruption, nepotism and larceny that have been being exposed over the course of past months. In fact, Jindal Group forms one of the significant chunk of the gigantic coal block allocation scam, as pointed out recently by the inter-ministerial group that intensified the drive against firms sitting idle on allotted coal blocks and recommended issuing showcause notices against the defaulters. Jindal Group’s brazen flouting of norms, both procedural and environmental, in addition to its blatant apathy towards the plight of the local people who it routinely uproots in its relentless drive to set up more plants, merits stringent action against it.