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Coal-gate: the Parakh letter wars

29 Oct 2013

NDTV has accessed a trail of letters which show the extent to which MPs, MLAs and even the Coal Minister demanded special favours from the coal ministry and its PSUs between 2004-2005. And when they were refused, they harassed, even threatened then Coal Secretary PC Parakh as well as heads of coal PSUs.

In a letter to the PM on November 8, 2004, former Congress MP from Dhanbad and currently a minister in the Jharkhand government, Chandra Shekhar Dubey accused Mr Parakh of going to Switzerland to "update his account" in a letter written to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

Mr Dubey has four criminal cases against him and faces charges of criminal trespass, wrongful restraint among others. Mr Parakh replied to these charges in a letter to the PMO saying Mr Dubey was angry as he was supporting illegal occupation of Bharat Coking Coal Limited houses in Dhanbad. Also that about a 100 homes were being occupied under the influence of the coal mafia.

Around the same time, Giridhari Yadav, JD(U) MLA from Belhar, Bihar accused Mr Parakh of irregularities in the appointment of Coal India Chief.

On January 5, 2005, a hurt Mr Parakh replied to the Cabinet Secretary saying he wanted to resign, because he says he was offended by the accusations against him.

Not only Mr Parakh but other high officials of the coal PSUs had to face pressure from politicians demanding favours.

On August 2, 2005, Furkan Ansari, Congress MP from Godda, Jharkhand wrote to the PM against RP Ritolai, CMD Eastern Coalfields alleging corrupt practices.

But a vigilance enquiry ordered by the PMO found that Mr Ritolia has a 'reputation of being sincere and dedicated.'

They found that Mr Ansari had tried to get about 100 people from Jamtara, his area, jobs in a government mine.

On May 13, 2005, then BSP MP from Mirzapur, Narendra Kushwaha, who was later expelled in the cash for votes scam, wanted a ban on Northern Coalfields.

But the Chairman of Northern Coalfields wrote a letter describing how Mr Kushwaha at many occasions asked for favours and 'pecuniary advantages' which as Chairman he could not fulfill.

In its defense the PMO and the Cabinet Secretary have said that they backed Mr Parakh against these complaints from MPs.

But the PMO still has to explain why they took five years to change over to a new bidding based system, which would have to a large extent cleaned up the mess in the system.

As Mr Parakh said in a letter to the Cabinet Secretary in March 2005, that 'after the PM's decision to continue the present system of allotments, five screening committee meetings were held in the last four months of 2005, and in such time more companies were allotted blocks than in the previous 10 years.'

Source: NDTV