Parliament adjourned till Wednesday over coal allotments

New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) Both houses of parliament were repeatedly disrupted and finally adjourned till Wednesday as the opposition refused to accept Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement that the government had nothing to hide on the coal mines allocation.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) raised the demand for a debate on the missing files related to coal allocations and wanted the prime minister to intervene as he is scheduled to leave for Russia Wednesday for the G-20 summit.

In his reply in both the houses, Manmohan Singh said it would be wrong to conclude that official papers sought by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks were indeed missing.

"With regard to the so-called missing files or papers pertaining to the ongoing investigation into allocation of coal blocks, I would like to emphasize that the government is making all efforts to locate the papers requisitioned by the CBI," he said.

"At this stage, it would be premature to say that some papers are indeed missing," he said.

The prime minister said a vast majority of the papers sought by the CBI have already been handed over to them.

"However, disregarding the factual position, some members have gone ahead and drawn their own conclusions that there is something fishy and the government is hiding something."

Manmohan Singh said: "Let me assure this august house that the government has nothing to hide."

He urged MPs not to draw hasty conclusions and appealed to them to "let the house continue its normal business".

In 2006-09, a total of 204 coal blocks were allocated to state-run and private companies. Of these, licences of 40 blocks were later cancelled. Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told parliament last month that 189 documents related to the allocations were missing.

"The fact that more than 150,000 pages of documentation have already been handed over to the CBI clearly shows that our intention to facilitate the process of investigation cannot be called into question," Manmohan Singh said.

He assured the house that guilty will be punished.

But Manmohan Singh's bid to end the continuing uproar in parliament over the missing files did not satisfy the opposition benches.

The BJP and other parties said the prime minister had not responded to their concerns.

In Rajya Sabha, BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad said: "It is a serious matter and country needs a reply ... but prime minister has not answered any question raised by the members."

At this, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said: "Members wanted a statement from the prime minister and he has given, now coal minister will reply to clarifications sought by the members."

This was rejected by the BJP, saying they won't listen to the coal minister.

Earlier, BJP's Arun Jaitley demanded to know who would take "moral responsibility" over the missing files and "there has been an attempt to mislead this house".

"It has every conceivable element of bad governance as it involves fraud, contempt of court, breach of privilege, conflict of interest and destruction of evidence," he said.

He alleged there was a notion that the missing files won't see the "light of the day" as the names of important people were involved in the alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal mines.

In Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj's request to seek clarification from the prime minister was turned down by the Speaker Meira Kumar, saying there is no such provision in the lower house.

Amid din, both houses were adjourned for the day by the respective presiding officers.


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