New Delhi: Congress MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal, who is under pressure after allegation of preferential coal block allotments, has defended himself. Jindal blamed the government, saying the delay caused by them led to the charges being levelled against his company Jindal Steel and Power Limited.
Issuing a statement, the company said, "The government invited bids on mining experience, execution capabilities, financial strength and technical tie-up. After hearing all the companies, the IMG recommended TATAs and JSPL in October 2008."
"It took the government a long time of five months to finally issue letters to TATAs and JSPL on 27th February 2009…Incidentally, Election Notification came out after two days 1st March 2009." it said further.
The allegation that the coal block was given to Jindal in violation of government guidelines was made by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Hansraj Ahir.
Speaking to CNN-IBN over the Opposition's contention that the Congress MP benefited from coal allocation, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley called it a classic case of crony capitalism.
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."
This comes a day after CNN-IBN accessed documents that showing how Jindal Steel and Power Ltd got a coal field in February 2009 with reserves of 1500 million metric tones.
The documents show how Congress MP Naveen Jindal was given a coal block while the government Navratna Coal India Ltd was refused and asked to go to far off Mozambique in search of coal blocks.
On February 27, 2009, two private companies got huge coal blocks. Both the blocks were in Odhisha and while one was over 300 mega metric tones, the other was over 1500 mega metric tones. Combined worth of these blocks was well over Rs 2 lakh crore and these blocks were meant for the liquification of coal.
One of these blocks was awarded to Jindal. His firm Jindal Steel and Power was the company which was allotted the Talcher coal field in Angul in Odisha in 2009, well after the self-imposed cut off date by the Centre on allocation of coal blocks.
While Jindal's firm got blocks worth several thousand crores, Coal India Ltd, a government Navratna company, was struggling to get coal blocks for itself. Despite several requests through letters, Coal India was asked to go to far off Mozambique in search of coal blocks.