New Delhi: Just a week after filing cases in coal block allocation scam, CBI has begun probing alleged irregularities in the country's first-ever attempt to explore untapped mineral wealth worth thousands of crores lying in the deep sea bed, sensing another mega scam.
CBI sources said a preliminary enquiry has been registered by the agency in connection with the alleged favours extended to the companies by the unknown officials of the Indian Bureau of Mines while awarding licences for exploring minerals in the sea bed of Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.
It is alleged four beneficiaries companies owned by the family members of an Indian Revenue Service officer are also under the agency's scanner as they bagged nearly half of the blocks despite lacking necessary qualification, they said.
The sources said in March last year government, in a first attempt to explore offshore mineral wealth, had placed 62 blocks on offer out of which 28, nearly half, were bagged by companies owned by family members of the former Enforcement Directorate official who had also served in Mines Ministry.
The final award of licences had been put on hold after aggrieved parties approached the Bombay High Court and the Andhra Pradesh High Court seeking their cancellation.
The companies allegedly owned by the son and brother of the officer are based at the same address on Kasturba Gandhi Marg in the national capital, they said.
It is alleged that companies were incorporated after bids were invited from the interested parties willing to go for exploration and did not have any experience in offshore mining at the time of notification.