Just days after the end of the monsoon session of Parliament, which saw a bitter tussle between the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is preparing a list of witnesses to be included in the investigation into irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, tabled in Parliament during the monsoon session, will be taken up by PAC in its probe.
Senior PAC members believe, besides former coal secretaries during UPA-I, those during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule should also be called to find out about the policy decisions during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
“The decision to allow competitive bidding for allocation of coal blocks was taken in 2004 during the UPA-I tenure, but it is equally important to talk about the policy decisions that were taken before 2004, and we expect coal secretaries of the NDA regime would also be called,” said those in the know of the development.
Even as a final list of witnesses is still being prepared, it is expected representatives of governments of states where coal blocks were allocated would also be called. PAC members plan to call chief secretaries of state governments, so that they can give their views on whether or not chief ministers had recommended names of private companies for allocation of coal blocks.
PAC may also call members of the screening committee who were part of the allocation process, to know how many times they had met before deciding on the allocation of coal blocks to private companies. BJP had alleged the committee had not met after mid-2008, but the Union government continued to allocate coal blocks to benefit some.
Meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is also expected to start questioning the representatives of the companies the offices of which were raided by it recently in connection with the allocation controversy.
Senior CBI officials could also call Congress MP Vijay Darda for questioning. The process of calling representatives of the companies that were raided is expected to start in 8-10 days.