Coal scam report to 'clear' India government

Sources say CBI to let federal government off the hook in status report to top court over allocation of coal blocks.

    Coal scam report to 'clear' India government
    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabinet ministers had been under fire over the coal scam [Reuters]

    India’s premier Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is to file a status report to the Supreme Court on its investigation into the multi-billion coal allocation scam.

    The findings, to be filed later on Monday, will let the government off the hook in the scam that has forced the ruling Congress party on the defensive and dented the credibility of the prime minister, according to reports quoting sources.

    Reports quoting sources said of the 16 cases, the CBI had completed investigations in six. 

    The Supreme Court had directed the CBI to investigate all coal allocations made since 1993.

    The sources reportedly said, after investigations, no criminality had been found in the allocations and that files that were missing had been found. 

    The coal allocation turned controversial after it was discovered that for several years the Congress-led government had given away mining licences to private players without a transparent bidding process costing the country several millions.

    The federal government last week told the Supreme Court that looking back, “we can say something has gone wrong, and some correction is required to be done".

    Attorney-General G E Vahanvati is also reported to have advised the government to cancel coal block allocations to private companies made after 2005 in case the licences had not been issued to them.

    Economic reforms

    Between 1993 and 2009, 195 coal blocks were allocated to the private sector, after the country's economy was liberalised and the government let go off control of several sectors in the country.

    Among those accused of being involved in the scam are Congress member of parliament and industrialist Naveen Jindal.

    The scam exploded when India’s top federal auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG), in its report on March 2012 accused the Congress-led government of a non-transparent process of coal allocation to the private sector. In August of that year, its final report said the faulty methodology helped the allottees gain INR 185591 crore ($28 billion).  The prime minister denied the CAG report on the grounds that it had misread the process. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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