Coal blocks: Due process was followed, says Hindalco

New Delhi :  Yet another FIR was filed in the coal-blocks allocation scam on Tuesday. This time the CBI has registered a case against top industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary P.C. Parekh over alleged irregularities in the allocation of two blocks in Odisha to aluminum maker Hindalco, a flagship com-pany of the Aditya Birla Group.

Coal blocks: Due process was followed, says Hindalco

Besides registering the FIR, the CBI also carried out searches in the offices of Hindalco in Delhi, Secunderabad, Mumbai and Bhuba-neswar.

Officials said Birla might also be questioned.

The FIR alleges criminal conspiracy by the coal secretary and other public servants in showing undue favour to Hindalco, which is not a public sector company.

According to the FIR, Tamil Nadu PSU Neyveli Lignite Limited was to be given the Talabira II coal block in Odisha but Parekh allegedly favoured Hindalco and allowed it to share the block with Neyveli leading to notional loss to the exchequer.

The CBI is investigating how and why private firms secured mining rights at throwaway prices from the government, which did not auction the coal fields or maintain records of its decisions.\ Only recently the CBI had interrogated Congress MPs Navin Jindal and Vijay Darda for securing mining rights for their firms.

Hindalco, meanwhile, has informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that “they had followed every process required for allocation of coal, as stipulated by the government policy.”

The CBI has booked Birla in his capacity as a representative of the Aditya Birla Group. However, the conglomerate denied receiving any FIR and also debunked allegations of wrongdoing. Sources said the CBI was still looking for exact quid pro quo between Birla and Parekh.

“Apparently, this seems to be part of a larger case entailing coal allocation to companies, and being one of the companies, we are being investigated also,” Hindalco said in a statement.

Hindalco Industries’ scrip closed on Tuesday with a gain of 1.45 percent at Rs.112.20 on the BSE, after falling 4.97 percent to Rs.105.10 in intra-day trade.

The Supreme Court on August 29 had asked the CBI to pick up speed in its investigations in the coal block controversy, saying its work was “in the first gear”.

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