New Delhi, Aug 20 (IANS) All efforts are being made to trace the missing files relating to the allocation of coal blocks, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
He also rejected allegations that files related to a family that had close proximity to him were among the missing documents. "If these allegations are proven right I am ready for any punishment."
Giving a statement in the house, the minister said that an inter-ministerial committee has been constituted to look into the matter of the missing files.
The coal minister had Saturday admitted that some files related to coal blocks allocations had gone missing.
"The CBI has asked for 157 documents of companies which had applied prior to June 2004 but have not been allocated coal blocks, apart from few other files and documents," he said.
"Since some documents could not be located in the coal ministry, I have constituted an inter-ministerial committee under the chairmanship of additional secretary (coal) on July 11 to look into the matter," he said.
He assured the house that "all efforts are being made to locate documents which are not readily available in the coal ministry".
"I would like to assure the house that my ministry would leave no stone unturned in tracing and providing the documents sought by the CBI," he added amidst uproar by the Bharatiya Janata Party which demanded that the minister should name the companies whose files were missing.
"So far 769 files in original have been handed over to the CBI for investigation which is more than 150,000 pages. As investigation progresses, if additional documents are called for, the ministry would provide," he said.
Jaiswal said the mandate given to the committee was to examine and review non-availability of files and suggest appropriate action or locating the same.
"The committee has held two meetings and requested the members to locate files," he said.
Meanwhile, the BJP continued its protest demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement on the matter.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said: "Files don't disappear they are made to disappear. These files were the evidence of crime and now there is a possibility of culprits escaping."
"This is a case of destruction of evidence of a case monitored by the Supreme Court. I want to know from the minister has any FIR been filed in the matter," asked Jaitley.
Jaiswal replied the files were missing and not stolen and the committee was looking into it. "Who has done it we will try to find," he added.
The missing files pertain to decisions taken at various levels in the coal ministry and the government screening committees that decided on the controversial allocations.
During the period under review, a total of 204 coal blocks were allocated to state-run and private companies -- 132 by the screening committee and 72 by the coal ministry. Out of that, licences for 40 blocks were cancelled.
A preliminary inquiry to examine the irregularities in allocation of coal blocks during 2006-09 was registered by CBI on reference of the Central Vigilance Committee in June 2012.