PAC to vet coal block allocations in Odisha

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 25, 2012 20:41 hrs

The public accounts committee (PAC) of the Parliament led by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi will visit Odisha soon to scrutinize alleged irregularities in coal block allotments in the state between 2005 and 2009.

The nine-member panel will also examine the procedure followed by the state government in recommending coal blocks for private as well as PSU firms. Besides, the panel will check the status of coal blocks allocated to Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), a Coal India subsidiary.

The panel will take up scrutiny on the basis of the findings of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) on coal block allocations.

“The PAC will reach Odisha on November 2. It will hold talks with the chief secretary and other top state officials on the next day,” said a senior steel & mines department official.

After CAG pointed out glaring irregularities in award of coal blocks, an inter-ministerial group of ministers of the Centre has recommended de-allocation of the New Patrapada coal block allocated in January 2006 jointly to Bhusan Steel, Adhunik Metaliks, Deepak Steel and Odisha Sponge Iron. The IMG has recommended bank guarantee encashment in case of Radhikapur (east) coal block allocated to Tata Sponge Iron, Scaw Industries and SPS Sponge Ltd in July 2006.

Moreover, the sale of Rampia and dip side Rampia coal block by Navabharat Power to Essar Power had come under the scanner. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik had also courted controversy for recommending coal blocks in favour of Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL). The recommendation for coal blocks were made by Patnaik even before the signing of memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the company. It may be noted that as many as 22 coal blocks were allocated to private firms and state controlled entities in Odisha between 2005 and 2009, including two blocks for implementing coal-to-liquid projects.

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