New Delhi: A day after CNN-IBN broke the story of Congress MP Naveen Jindal being allegedly favoured in allotment of a coal block in Odisha, his company has hit back at the government over the delay in the allocation.
The company, Jindal Steel and Power Limited released a statement saying that the delay by the government led to the charges being levelled against the company.
The statement said, "The government invited prospective bidders with the objective of fuel security and hence the bidding was invited for fuel critical, coal to liquid project. Estimated investment for this project was up to Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 crore. Inter Ministerial Group recommended two companies TATAs and JSPL in October 2008."
"It took government long time of five months to finally issue letters to TATAs and JSPL on 27th February 2009, just 2 days before election notification on 1st March 2009," it further said.
But CNN-IBN had accessed the letters showing how Coal India Limited, government's own Navratna PSU, wasn’t given these blocks and asked to mine in Mozambique. Some other PSUs were ignored as well.
The move has left some unanswered questions such as:
- Why was Coal India asked to go to Mozambique and not alloted blocks here?
- Why was there a delay of five months in allotment of letters for coal blocks to JSPL and TATA if decision to allot them was taken in October 2008?
The Opposition was also quick to pounce on the expose.
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley said, "This is a classic case of crony capitalism…if this doesn't stink, then I don't know what will. The time has come for the government to cancel all coal block allotments, it is lying that the country will suffer by the cancellation of coal blocks."
Jindal is just one of the several politicians who are now under scanner in the coal scam. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and close aide of Lalu Prasad Yadav, Prem Gupta, is also facing the heat as his son also got a coal block in Odisha.
The RJD supremo, however, defended his aide saying, "All this is wrong, so what if he got a coal block?"
Caught in this entire crossfire between the government and the Opposition is the business of governance and policy making. This battle in the days ahead is only going to get shriller.