CBI finds NDA gave 20 coal blocks in 03 under Munda

FP

The CBI probe into coal blocks allotment between 1993 and 2004 has zeroed in on the period around 2003 as it has found that the highest number of allotments were made in that year when the NDA government was in power, and the BJP's Karia Munda was the coal minister.

CBI officers said that 20 blocks were allotted during 2003, of which 13 were given to state public sector firms and the rest to private companies. The private companies include Prakash Industries Ltd (PIL), promoted by Ved Prakash Aggarwal, brother of Jai Prakash Aggarwal, who is known to be a BJP-RSS supporter. The coal block to PIL was allotted in BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh.

Usha Martin Ltd, which also owns media group Prabhat Khabar, was allotted a coal block in Jharkhand in 2003. The list of those who got coal blocks was given to the CBI by the coal ministry after the agency registered multiple FIRs and preliminary enquiries to probe coal block allotments since 1993.

According to the list of allotments between 1993 and 2004, the largest number of allotments were made in Maharashtra. "In 2003, nine coal blocks were allotted in Maharashtra, three in West Bengal, three in Orissa, two each in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, and one coal block was allotted in Arunachal Pradesh," said a CBI officer.

The CBI probe which was initially focused on allotments to private companies has expanded to include blocks given to state PSUs as it was apparently learnt that a large number of such allotments were made by the NDA government. The CBI is checking if the state PSUs entered into joint ventures with private firms after getting the blocks.

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