HEAT in the coal block allocation scam finally reached the doorsteps of two Congress MPs — Naveen Jindal and former minister of state for coal Dasari Narayana Rao — with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) accusing Jindal’s firm, Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL), and Gagan Sponge Iron of obtaining coal blocks by “misrepresenting” facts and allegedly bribing Rao. Congress MP Vijay Darda and his brother, MLA Rajendra Darda, are already named in the CBI FIR. The agency plans to question Jindal and Rao jointly soon.
In its FIR, the agency said JSPL and Gagan Sponge were allocated the Amarkonda Murgadangal block in Jharkhand in January 2008 while a transaction of R2.25 crore was done in December 2008 with Sowbhagya Media, a firm partially owned by Rao. Describing the money trail, the agency said after allocation of the coal block Gagan Sponge transferred R2.25 crore into the accounts of Jindal Realty, which further shifted the money to the accounts of New Delhi Exim, both controlled by Jindal.
The money was then used to buy shares of Sowbhagya Media for R100 each, against the market price of R28. Officials said Rao allegedly influenced screening committee members to give undue favours to Jindal and Gagan Sponge. According to the CBI, Rao, a former Rajya Sabha MP, controls 59% of shares in Sowbhagya Media through Siri Media, in which Rao owns 80%. Both firms are based in Hyderabad. Rao was MoS (coal) in 2004-06 and 2006-08. He was earlier examined by the CBI in connection with the coal block allocation to Vijay Darda’s companies.
The FIR has been registered under sections 420 (cheating) and 120 b (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The CBI also alleged that JSPL applied for coal blocks in January 2007 and at the time of application, misrepresented facts on three parameters. “JSPL and Gagan claimed that they had sufficient land to build the power plants but it was found to be a false claim while they also painted a rosy picture regarding water supply. Jindal also gave false representation regarding his previous