Coalgate: CBI finally closes cases against Birla, Parakh

As expected, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed before a Delhi court for closure of the proceedings against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary P C Parakh, withdrawing its allegations of irregularity in the allocation of a coal block to the Birla-controlled Hindalco.

The CBI in fact told the court that its investigation showed that Hindalco was given the coal mine "in larger interest of the country"; and praised Birla for generating around 1,000 MW of electricity from the captive power plants run on coal sourced from its captive Talabira.

The CBI, backing the views of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also said the Odisha government supported the allocation of Talabira coal deposits.

The agency has said that under the "federal legal framework", issues of "mining lease, prospecting licence and most other statutory clearances including acquisition of land, provision of water etc" are all done at the state level.

The case stemmed from the decision of the union coal ministry under former PM Singh to sell off the Talabira coal deposits, which were exclusively earmarked for public sector company Neyveli Lignite Corp (NLC).

The CBI had earlier alleged that the competent authorities were guilty of irregularity because the diversion of Talabira coal deposits thwarted NLC's plan to set up a power plant, but it has now decided this was needless mud-slinging.

(See: Coalgate: CBI set to clear Hindalco, Parakh, Manmohan of all charges)