With the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) readying a new set of FIRs this week, the coal scam probe is hot again. The agency is preparing to register four fresh cases in connection with its probe related to alleged irregularities in the allocation of captive coal blocks between 1993 and 2004.
Around 43 coal blocks were allocated during this period. The probe also includes coal blocks allocated during NDA's tenure. In its report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said the government extended windfall gains of R1.86 lakh crore to private players by distributing coal blocks without bidding.
According to sources, based on its preliminary inquiry filed against 24 firms, which also includes joint ventures between the state PSUs and private companies, the CBI will be registering new FIRs early this week.
The preliminary inquiry was registered after the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) referred the complaints given by a delegation of seven Congress MPs and coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal to the CBI. The agency is probing the allocation of 195 coal blocks since 1993 to 289 companies, including PSUs. Till now, the agency has filed FIRs against seven firms for misrepresenting facts and fudging of documents and has registered three preliminary enquiries, including one against the allocation of 72 coal blocks made to 99 PSUs.
The agency is also probing the role of officials of coal, power and steel ministries and retired bureaucrats. “In this round of FIRs, cases will be filed against companies who feature in the list of 24 firms which are under probe in the second PE. In the next round, the CBI might book some of the biggest PSUs that were allocated coal blocks for power, steel and sponge iron projects,” a source said.
Meanwhile, in the PE against PSUs, the CBI officials have written to state governments to provide documents related to coal block allocations in their areas, a source said.
With the filing of the new FIRs, the agency is also ready to summon Congress MP and owner of Lokmat group Vijay Darda and senior government officials in the ongoing probe.
Darda has been booked