CBI registers fresh case against Jindal Steel in coal scam

It is not just the Congress that is facing a reversal of fortunes, it is bad days for its power sources as well. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a second FIR against industrialist and Congress leader Naveen Jindal's company Jindal Steel and Power Limited in the coal block allocation scam.

The CBI on Sunday registered a second case against Jindal Steel and Power Ltd and some unknown government officials for alleged cheating, criminal conspiracy and under the Prevention of Corruption Act for the alleged irregularities.

The complaint relates to alleged irregularities in the allotment of Gare Palma IV/1 block in Chhattisgarh to the company, which was earlier named Jindal Strips Ltd. The coal block was allotted to Jindals for a sponge iron plant.

The CBI alleged that Jindal Steel and Power Ltd entered an irregular mining lease and crossed the coordinates stipulated by the coal ministry. ''The company resorted to excess mining, irregular regularisation of area beyond coordinates, sale of raw coal, sale of coal fines and middling to other than specified end users, irregular permission for consumption of coal in expansion of kilns and other related allegations,'' a CBI statement said.

The company has also been accused of sale of raw coal and coal fines, and middling to other than specified end-users, irregular permission for consumption of coal in expansion of kilns and other related allegations, sources said.

The CBI had last year filed a case against the Raigarh, Chhattisgarh-based Jindal company, which remains unsolved as yet.

The latest FIR takes the total number of cases registered by the CBI in the coal scam to 36.

CBI sources said the agency had carried out searches at four locations in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, before filing the FIR.

The company, however, denied doing anything illegal. "JSPL reiterates that all its actions are in keeping with the legal framework of the country and that it complies with the law in letter and in spirit. JSPL continues to cooperate with all the authorities in a responsive manner," said a JSPL spokesperson.

In the earlier FIR, the CBI had alleged that the company cheated and made misrepresentation of facts for bagging the Amarkonda Murgadangal block, in Birbhum district, Jharkhand in 2008.

The investigating agency has claimed that the misrepresentation was allegedly done on three counts - land, water supply and previous allocations.

The CBI in its earlier FIR had also named former minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao as an accused. It is alleged that Rao favoured the Jindal Group bypassing the then-power minister Sushilkumar Shinde's recommendation that four blocks in Jharkhand should be shared between Bhushan Energy and Jindal Power and Steel equally. Rao overruled Shinde and allocated all four coal blocks to Jindal. During Rao's tenure (2004-2006 and 2006-2008) as coal minister, the Jindals were allocated five coal blocks.

It is also alleged that an investment worth Rs 2.25 crore was made by one of the companies owned by Jindals in Hyderabad-based Saubhagya Media Limited, owned by Rao.

CBI has also alleged that shares of Rao's company worth Rs28 in 2008 were purchased at Rs100 by one of Jindal's firms New Delhi Exim. These transactions took place within a year of Jindal getting the coal blocks.