CVC asks CBI to probe irregularities in all coal block allocations since 1993

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to look into all allocations of coal blocks since 1993, bringing opposition Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) also into the ambit of the probe.

The CBI, which has so far registered seven cases and conducted searches at nearly 40 locations, is now looking into the case of three coal mines in Jharkhand, reports said today.

The agency is reported to be focusing on the allocation of three Jharkhand coal blocks by the coal ministry's inter-ministerial screening committee in 2006. These coal blocks were recommended to the committee by the state government headed by Arjun Munda, who was the chief minister at that time also.

The three coal blocks - North Dhadu, Dumri and Bundu - were allocated among seven private firms and CBI is looking at whether the recipients of the three coal blocks had misrepresented or concealed facts on issues such as net worth and prior allocation to bag the deals, reports quoted CBI sources as saying on Sunday.

This could drag the BJP, which has been vociferously demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, into the coal block allocation scam.

The losses, estimated of over Rs1,86,000 crore, in the allocation of about 78 coal blocks has taken the country by storm ever since the CAG report said the exchequer had incurred a huge loss because of the government's policy of allocating coal blocks and not auctioning them.

The CBI had, on Saturday, registered two new cases against two private companies - Vikash Metals and Powers Limited and Grace Industries – for alleged misrepresentation of their net worth and joint ventures to illegally secure coal blocks.

The CBI, which has been looking into the allocation of 78 coal blocks, will now start preliminary investigations into 195 captive coal mines allocated since 1993.