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Dasari and Jindal in Coalgate FIR

Dasari and Jindal in Coalgate FIR
Highlights

Former Union Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao, along with Congress MP Naveen Jindal, has been named in the fresh FIR filed by the CBI in...

Former Union Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao, along with Congress MP Naveen Jindal, has been named in the fresh FIR filed by the CBI in the coal scam. Dasari was the concerned minister when the alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks took place from 2006 to 2009.

He has already been quizzed once earlier by the CBI in connection with the case. The agency booked Jindal's companies � Jindal Realty and ND Exim and Dasari Narayan Rao's company Saubhagya Media. The CBI has accused Narayan Rao, Jindal and their companies of alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating and relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and benefiting each other in a quid pro quo manner. In its eight month long probe into the scam, it is for the first time that CBI named him as one of the accused.

dasari in coal scam

According to PTI the CBI sources said Jindal Steels allegedly claimed in application submitted in January 2007 that they had only three blocks with them whereas actually they had at least six coal blocks. In an early morning operation, CBI teams deputed from New Delhi on Tuesday swooped on the residence and office of Dasari at Hyderabad and conducted thorough searches in connection with the coal blocks allocation scam.

The simultaneous searches at Dasari's residence and Sowbhagya Media Limited owned by him, located in posh Jubilee Hills, concluded around 5 pm. Dasari was reportedly questioned by the CBI officials, who reached the city from Delhi early in the morning, for nine long hours. Sources said a CBI team also conducted searches at Jindal Steel's guest house in the city. This is the 12th FIR to be registered in connection with the scam.

The case pertains to award of coal blocks in Jharkhand and had been referred to by the Central Vigilance Commissioner. Incriminating documents were found during searches at Dasari's house and office, sources said. CBI sources said Jindal Steels misrepresented facts to get coal blocks and Dasari was aware of the misrepresentation. However, he allegedly extended undue favour for the company allegedly in return for huge investment in his company Sowbhagya Media Limited, owned by him.

Sources said Jindal group gave an unsecured loan of Rs 2.25 crore in 2008 to a nondescript trading company, which used the funds to buy shares of Sowbhagya Media on preferential basis by paying four times more than the offer price of Rs 27 a share. Quoting CBI sources PTI mentioned the figure to be Rs 100 per share. The shares were purchased by a nondescript company named Siri Media, which again is reportedly owned by Dasari, sources said. The former minister was reportedly questioned by the CBI officials and the probe agency may summon him to Delhi for further questioning.

CBI sources said the agency carried out searches at 15 locations, including residence and offices of Narayan Rao in Hyderabad and of Jindal in the Capital. Besides Jindal and Narayan Rao, the CBI has also booked companies Jindal Steel and Power Limited and Gagan Sponge which were allotted Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Birbhum in Jharkhand in 2008. The CBI team carried out coordinated searches at the 6, Prithviraj Road residence of Jindal and offices of his firms in Bhikaji Cama place in the Capital.

BJP Spokesperson Prakash Javdekar termed the action of agency as "too little, too late" and demanded that action should not be limited to searches alone. While FIR has been registered against the former Union Minister of State for Coal Prakash Javadekar said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held the Cabinet-rank of Coal at the relevant period, should answer on the issue. He even demanded his resignation. The CAG Report on coal blocks allocation stated that the Coal Ministry's refusal to take the auction route caused a loss of Rs.1.86 lakh crore to the exchequer. Jindal explained that four coal blocks were allocated to his firm in 1998, during the Vajpayee Government and four more during the UPA Government. The second allotment was done on merit, after evaluating their performance during the first allotment.

Countering the claim that coal blocks were virtually given free and never auctioned, Jindal snapped back saying that nowhere in the world, whether the United States, Indonesia or South Africa where there are coal mines, coal blocks are auctioned. Strangely in India there is talk of auctioning coal blocks, he said. Besides coal blocks are given as captive mines for power projects and not allowed to be sold in the open market. Reacting to the development, Jindal Steel and Power Limited external affairs head Manu Kapoor said, "JSPL, as law-abiding company, is governed by a strong ethical code of conduct. This is an ongoing CBI investigation into coal block allocation. At this stage of investigation, JSPL is committed to fully cooperate with CBI."

Meanwhile the Congress made it clear that they will not interfere in the probe in any manner. In a related development Jindal shares had plummeted by 15 percent in the Bombay Stock Exchange.

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