Coal Scam | Full Coverage

Coal Scam | Full Coverage

Coal block controversy: A news round-up

By Aman Malik

10 September, 2012

Even as the inter-ministerial group looking into coal block allocations looks set to submit its report, a missive by the department of economic affairs (DEA) in the finance ministry could make revoking allocations tougher.

The Economic Times newspaper said Monday that last week the DEA had told the panel that “any recommendation to de-allocate blocks should take into account views of the ‘end-user ministry’ as well as financial implications."

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Ourview | A tale of two allocations

Coal is a different story. Unlike the telecom sector, the start-up cost of even squatting on a coal-block is ridiculously low: one company managed an allotment with as little as Rs1 lakh of investment. Conversely, rent seeking is far easier here than in the spectrum case.

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Govt ignored MP’s concerns on coal field allocation

By Ruchira Singh & Utpal Bhaskar

The government in 2009 allotted coal fields to two companies for projects meant to convert the mineral to liquid fuels, despite a Rajya Sabha member having expressed concerns the previous year to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about such allocations being made without competitive bidding.

The government allotted blocks for coal-to-liquid (CTL) projects proposed by Jindal Synfuels Ltd (JSFL) and Strategic Energy Technology Systems Pvt. Ltd (SETSPL) based on the recommendations of an inter-ministerial group (IMG) led by Kirit S. Parikh, who was then member, energy, at the Planning Commission.

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What’s the plan?

By Liz Mathew

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) seems to have hit the panic button, signalling that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have succeeded in its concerted campaign to tarnish the credibility of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh .

On a day of rapid political developments, a defensive government convened two press conferences to clarify the government’s stand. In between, Singh took it upon himself to address the media; once, just after the monsoon session was adjourned sine die after the opposition and the government failed to end the logjam, and later in a detailed press statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on behalf of Singh.

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Manoj Jayaswal | The man who fell to earth

By Makarand Gadgil, Aniek Paul & Cordelia Jenkins

On the third floor of Insignia Towers, an almost abandoned eight-storey building in Kolkata’s information technology hub, Salt Lake Sector V, the curtains are drawn and the lights switched off. The tower, dwarfed by its glass-and-steel high-rise neighbours, is the registered office of around 60 companies that constitute the Abhijeet Group, headed by Manoj Jayaswal, a mining baron named by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) this week in its ongoing probe into irregularities in the allotment of coal blocks.

In Nagpur, Jayaswal’s hometown, and whence the Abhijeet Group was founded, the news of the businessman’s downfall has been greeted with surprise. “We have been hearing about his bubble is going to burst any time soon for last two-three years, but it seems it is only getting bigger and bigger," said a Bharatiya Janata Party MLA (member of the legislative assembly) from Nagpur, who did not want to be named. While CBI has raided offices of the group’s companies, Jayaswal has studiously avoided reporters clamouring for a statement.

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Coal blocks | Govt worried about loans to miners

By Anup Roy, Remya Nair & Utpal Bhaskar

The government is worried that loans given by banks to companies being investigated over irregularities in the allotment of coal mines may turn bad, and has asked them to collate information on such debt.

“We are aware of the situation and have asked banks for details. We are collecting the data through Indian Banks’ Association. We should get it in a few days," said a senior government official directly involved in the discussions with banks.

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Firms may have falsified equipment orders to get coal blocks

By Ruchira Singh & Utpal Bhaskar

An engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract works like this: the buyer identifies a supplier and awards it the contract, but this doesn’t become an order till the former pays an advance and sets a delivery date.

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07 September | A news round-up

By Aman Malik

At least two more political heavyweights—former corporate affairs minister Prem Chand Gupta of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, and junior minister for information and broadcasting S. Jagathrakshakan of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam —could come under the scanner after media reports said that they or their kin benefited from the coal block allocations.

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Ourview | Unintended consequences

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Losses from coal block allocation

By Krishnamurthy Subramanian

The government has offered two key defences in the controversy over coal block allocations. Let us examine why these defences are on shaky ground.

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Govt plays favourites in coal mining deals

By Udit Misra and Utpal Bhaskar

New Delhi: A Mint investigation shows what appear to be significant irregularities in the Union government’s October award to 31 companies of mining rights for 15 coal blocks with reserves worth around Rs5.37 trillion.

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Allocation controversy | CBI books 5 coal block recipients

By Sahil Makkar, Ruchira Singh & Liz Mathew

CBI acted on a day the government, seeking to recover lost ground, announced its intent to provide a quota for backward classes in government job promotions.

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Coal scam | The 5 companies CBI has registered FIRs against

Last week, Mint reporters tried to track down 93 small, mid-sized and obscure companies that have been allocated coal blocks by the government. Listed below is the information that reporters have found on the five companies against which the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered first information reports (FIRs) on Tuesday:

1. Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd

2. Jas Infrastructure Capital Pvt. Ltd

3. AMR Iron and Steels Pvt. Ltd

4. JLD Yavatmal Energy Ltd

5. Navabharat Power Pvt. Ltd

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58 coal block allocations being reviewed: Jaiswal

By Ruchira Singh

The IMG, which includes officials from the ministries of steel, power, economic affairs, industries and law and is chaired by the additional secretary Zohra Chatterji of the coal ministry, held a meeting on Monday and decided to meet again on Thursday, Friday and Saturday after discussions spanning over two hours.

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State underpriced coal blocks, says BJP

By Makarand Gadgil

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the Congress party-led Maharashtra state government of causing losses to the exchequer by failing to set a high floor price when the Maharashtra State Mineral Corporation (MSMC) auctioned rights for the mining of coal blocks.

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BJP, Congress stick to guns, no thaw expected

By Anuja & Sahil Makkar

Defending the coalfield allocation process, over which the government has been accused of wrongdoing, the Congress again rejected the demand for the cancellation of mine allotments and said that no one benefited from coal allocation as it cannot be sold.

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Mark to Market | Coal mines controversy clouds outlook for metal stocks

By Krishna Merchant

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s report has disclosed seemingly arbitrary allotment of untapped coal blocks to companies without a transparent bidding process.

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Coal in the Earth’s womb, govt’s false arguments

By Krishnamurthy Subramanian

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Political crisis worsens as BJP, Congress harden stand

By Liz Mathew, Sahil Makkar & Anuja

On a day of hectic political developments, while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh articulated the government’s rejection of the charges, the BJP once again sought to target the Prime Minister, who was also the minister in charge of coal at the time of the allotments.

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Views | Responsibility, not mine alone

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Views | Calling time on India’s bureaucracy

By Sundeep Khanna

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Parliament proceedings affected again

By Liz Mathew & Sahil Makkar

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Opposition demands PM’s resignation

By Liz Mathew

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday escalated its confrontation with the Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance by directly targeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his alleged role in failing to curb irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks and seeking his resignation.

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PM on coal issue: Can give satisfactory answers

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Don’t fully agree with CAG allegations: coal minister

“The allocation process was fully transparent. The policy was right in every way," Jaiswal said at a press conference.

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Opposition plans to corner govt on corruption

By Sahil Makkar and Tarun Shukla

Arun Jaitley, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, plan to criticize Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s role in alleged irregularities that the national auditor has pointed to in the allocation of coal mining blocks to private companies.

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Ourview | The coal allocation mess

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Corruption back on national agenda

By Tarun Shukla, Liz Mathew & Utpal Bhaskar

In three separate reports, quantifying the notional loss to the exchequer at Rs. 3.03 trillion, the CAG has, for the first time, directly cast aspersions on the role of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for its failure to check what it claims to be violations in awarding coal mining contracts, besides which it has found serious alleged infractions in the implementation of the UPA’s two boldest reform initiatives—privatization of airports and the setting up of large-sized power generation capacities on a fast-track basis.

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Coal block allottees had gains of Rs1.86 trillion: CAG

By Utpal Bhaskar and Tarun Shukla

The report said the ministry of coal should urgently go forward with competitive bidding for captive coal blocks mining.

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Use of excess coal by R-Power vitiated bidding process: CAG

By Utpal Bhaskar and Tarun Shukla

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Undue favours to 12 firms in coal blocks: CBI

“In our investigation, names of 12 suspected companies have come up. These companies are basically from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh," a CBI official said.

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Ourview | Government in a coal pit

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Govt eyes coal fund to buy assets abroad

A similar state fund for all energy assets considered last year remains on the backburner amid concerns from the central bank about setting aside part of the country’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves.

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‘$211 bn coal row final CAG report backs leak’

Last week, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) called parts of the draft “exceedingly misleading" and the prime minister’s office (PMO) scrambled to quell the row, which sparked uproar in Parliament and stoked fears another major corruption scandal was about to break.

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Mark to Market | Further ado about coal

By Ravi Krishnan

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Coal blocks allotted in transparent manner: Jaiswal

“We gave advertisements for allocation of coal blocks and invited applications...after the applications were received by us (coal ministry), the state governments were consulted and thereafter the coal blocks were allocated," coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told PTI.

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Views | Scrutiny turns to coal seam

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