Jaiswal's defense on Coalgate: Wrong to classify any file as 'missing' at this stage

New Delhi, Aug. 23 (ANI): Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on Friday updated the Rajya Sabha on the ongoing Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) enquiry regarding the Coalgate scam, and said that it would be incorrect to deem the 'majority' documents of the case as 'missing', as this was not the case.

Jaiswal also said that his ministry would put in every effort to procure and retrieve any file that is required by the investigators, which are presently unavailable.

"I would like to say that firstly, it would be wrong to classify any file or document as missing at this stage when an inter-ministerial committee is actively engaged in locating these papers. Secondly, it would be wrong to say that a large number of files are missing as there are only a handful of files yet to be located and handed over to the CBI. Thirdly, if we are finally unable to locate some papers, the Government will ensure that due investigations are carried out and guilty brought to book," Jaiswal said.

He said any additional document required by the CBI would be provided.

"With regard to the reports that a very large number of files are reportedly missing, the fact of the matter is that 497 files have already been handed over to CBI. ...Only seven files remain to be made available to CBI as on date. The balance is copies of applications and other connected documents," Jaiswal said.

"So far nearly 769 files, documents and other papers in original have been handed over to the CBI for investigation comprising of as many as 497 files, 163 applications, 40 agenda papers, 10 feedback-form booklets and 33 miscellaneous documents, running into more than 150,000 pages in aggregate. Also, 26 CDs have been handed over to them. As investigation progresses, if additional documents are called for by the CBI, the Ministry would supply them to CBI and, if any document is not readily available, it shall make every effort to trace and supply the same to the CBI," Jaiswal added.

Jaiswal also said he had constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee under the chairmanship of the Additional Secretary (Coal) with representatives from Ministries and Departments of Power, Steel, Industrial Policy and Promotion as well as Coal India Ltd. (CIL) and Central Mine Planning and Development Institute Limited (CMPDIL) on July 11,2013 to procure the files.

"The mandate given to the committee is to examine and review non-availability of any file or document and suggest appropriate action for locating the same. The committee has held three meetings so far and requested the members to locate the copies of documents/applications in their respective organizations. It is possible that some of these could be located and handed over to the CBI in the next few days," Jaiswal said.

The CBI has registered three Preliminary Enquiry cases and 13 FIRs since May, 2012 regarding alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks made since 1993.

The CBI had on July 31 said that at least five crucial files related to allotment of coal blocks during 2006-09 have not been received by it despite providing specific details.

The Coal Ministry had informed a Parliamentary committee that it is trying to locate lost and missing files on coal block allocation after the Supreme Court said that the Centre was not aiding CBI with documents in its probe.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on coal block allocation stated that nearly 150 coalfields were allotted to private and state-run firms without transparency and objectivity between 2005 and 2009.

The BJP has held Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh responsible and demanded his resignation for what has been estimated as loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crores to the national exchequer by the CAG in coal block allocation.

The CAG report does not indict the Prime Minister or his office, but the BJP is emphasizing that the Prime Minister held direct charge of the Coal Ministry for the years under scrutiny.

However, the Prime Minister had rejected the CAG's observations as 'misleading' and 'flawed', and blamed the opposition parties for thwarting the efforts of his government to bring a policy of competitive bidding.

Dr. Singh also ruled out any possibility of quitting the top post despite the BJP firm on its demand for his resignation over the coal blocks allocation issue. (ANI)

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