Millennium Post

Prime coal blocks given away at dirt cheap prices

Allotment of coal blocks in the most non-transparent manner has accrued windfall gains of thousands of crores of rupees to two private companies - Adani Enterprises and Electrosteel Castings Ltd. The government allocated two prime coal blocks, one to each, in return for which few influential politicians allegedly received hefty kickbacks, sources have revealed.

Despite availability of evidence against these companies, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has adopted a go-slow approach in the probe against them. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its reports, had earlier pointed out various discrepancies in the allotment of the coal blocks to these two companies. Sources have revealed that allotment of Parbatpur coal block (Jharkhand) to Electrosteel Castings Ltd and Chhendipada coal block (Odisha) to Adani Enterprises resulted in losses to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees to the public exchequer.

‘These two coal blocks possess good quality coal and their market value is huge. While Parbatpur block has an estimated reserve of 400 million tonnes, while the Chhendipada coal block has a reserve of about 1200 million tonnes which is huge,’ the sources added.
Chhendipada coal block was allotted jointly to three state PSUs  – Chattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC), Uttar Pradesh Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam (UPRVUNL) and Maharashtra State Power General Company (MAHAGENCO). However, after the allocation of Chhendipada coal block to these three PSUs, a consortium had selected Gautam Adani-led company Adani Enterprises as Mine Developer and Operator (MDO) for development and operation of this coal block in 2010. But sources  have confirmed that till now very dismal development work has been done on this block.

Much before the CAG tabled the report on coal allocation scam, the chief minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 15 February 2011 asking him to ‘review the allocation of coal-blocks in the coalfields in Odisha state’.
On the other hand, Kolkata-based Electrosteel Castings Ltd (ECL) is another such private company which has allegedly been violating the norms. During the preliminary probe by the investigating agencies it was found that Electrosteel which got the allotment of Parbatpur coal block in Jharkhand in 2005 during the second tenure of Arjun Munda as chief minister was meant for the state use itself, however, the coal mined from there was allegedly used at its plant in West Bengal. However, no action has been taken so far.

When asked why no action has been taken yet against these companies, CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra said that its role is to find out criminality, if any, with the intent of bribe, corruption and abuse of office. ‘Only when evidence is there the CBI registers a case. The preliminary inquiry is still going on,’ Mishra said.

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