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CBI widens coal probe, six more firms on radar

Next FIR by month-end likely to throw up new names

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After the first salvo, the Central Bureau of Investigation () is gearing up to register cases against at least another half a dozen companies in the . In what looks like a replay of the telecom FIRs and subsequent charge sheets, the CBI is widening the probe into the coal matter, pinning down many more corporate and government entities in the process.

When asked about the timing of the next FIR, after the first one against five companies, their directors and unknown government officials yesterday, a senior CBI official replied, “not sure”. His answer was the same on the number of companies likely to be named in the next FIR.

But, sources close to the development pointed out the CBI was preparing to register more cases in the coal scam by the end of the month. The investigation team is learnt to be questioning companies including , , , and Rungta Mines over the allotment of coal blocks. The CBI had also raided the official premises of Inertia Iron and Steel along with Jayaswal NECO in Nariman point (Mumbai) yesterday.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the allocation of coal blocks had named many of the companies being probed by the CBI for not starting production at the blocks allocated to them. According to the report, Rungta Mines was allocated Choritand Taliya block on May 14, 2008, but it is yet to start production.

The CBI is verifying the genuineness of the information provided by the companies at the time of submitting applications for allotment. The investigation is covering companies that got coal blocks between 2006 and 2009. Three of the companies named by the CBI have alleged links to MP . The CBI statement, however, did not name Darda.

THE CBI'S COAL INVESTIGATION
  • OCTOBER 2009
    BJP MP Hansraj Ahir wrote to CVC to probe coal block allocation
     
  • NOVEMBER 2010
    Ahir wrote to CAG to probe the same matter
     
  • MAY 2012
    CAG forwarded the application to CVC, which then referred the matter to CBI
     
  • JUNE 1
    CBI registered a preliminary inquiry
     
  • AUGUST 17
    on coal block allocation tabled in Parliament
     
  • SEPTEMBER 4
    CBI registered cases against five companies and unknown officials; probe continues
The six companies on the radar are Visa Power, Pushp Steel and Mining, GVK Power, Rungta Mines, Inertia Iron and Steel, and Jayaswal NECO

As the preliminary inquiry proceeds, the CBI is likely to throw up other names. It is yet to reveal the names of government officials who may have played a role in the irregularities during allocation. “We cannot say if these were state or Centre level officials, but there was some connivance,” the CBI spokesperson said.

The CAG audit covers only 57 of 142 blocks allocated in the said period, all of which belong to the private sector and are opencast mines. The CBI is not looking into allocations made to public sector units.

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