CBI books Kumar Mangalam Birla, former Secretary in coal case

BirlaCoordinated searches were carried out at six locations including offices of the Aditya Birla group in Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday filed FIRs against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla

and former coal secretary P C Parakh for alleged irregularities and criminal conspiracy in the allotment of two coal blocks in Orissa in 2005.

Coordinated searches were carried out at six locations including offices of the Aditya Birla group in Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.

The FIRs against Kumar Mangalam Birla, the chief of the Aditya Birla group, and Parakh have been filed

under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In a press statement issued in the evening, Hindalco, the Aditya Birla group company that had applied for the coal mines, described the charges against Kumar Mangalam Birla as "preposterous".

The firm's managing director, D Bhattacharya, said that the application for the Talabira II mine had been made

in 1996 by a firm which Hindalco acquired only in 2000. "The project for which this mine was allocated is ready to commission later this month, whereas the clearances to permit mining have not been received so far. Consequently, no mining has been carried out," Bhattacharya said in the statement.

The statement added that delays by the government had pushed the project back by nine years.

Hindalco informed the Bombay Stock Exchange: "We wish to state unambiguously that we have followed every process required for allocation of coal completely, as stipulated by the government policy." The company's shares closed 1.45 per cent up after falling initially.

A Hindalco spokesperson said the company had not received a copy of the CBI's FIR.

The CBI has now filed 14 FIRs in the case. The coal ministry has moved to de-allocate two blocks, and served an ultimatum to the holders of seven.

"CBI has registered a fresh case in alleged irregularities in coal scam against the then coal secretary, Hindalco, representative of Adita Birla Group, unknown persons and officials," CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said.

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