New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, Oct 17 IBNS | 2 years ago

Amid reports that Naveen Patnaik might be quizzed in connection with alleged irregularities in allocation of coal block to Hindalco, the Odisha Chief Minister said the power of allocating coal blocks is with the Centre.

Patnaik had reportedly written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in order to approve coal blocks for Hindalco.

"Naveen Patnaik had reportedly written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to approve coal blocks of Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla-owned Hindalco," CNN-IBN reported quoting sources.

Speaking on media, Patnaik said: "The letter that was written to the Central government was to examine the request of Hidalco."

"I want to clarify that the powers of allocating coal blocks lies witht he Central government. No information has been received from the CBI for questioning or otherwise," he said.

The CBI is reportedly looking into the role of Patnaik in the matter.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his beleaguered government found themselves feeling yet another unpleasant surge in Coalgate heat, as former Coal Secretary PC Parakh intensified his attack on the administration.

Parakh, who on Tuesday was accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks, spent much of Thursday lashing out at the charges in intervies to TV channels and newspapers.

He vehemently reiterated that the Prime Minister, as head of the Ministry of Coal, took the final decision on the controversial allotments and said if he was being accused, the PM too must be charged.

Parakh along with Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla were named by the CBI on Tuesday in its fourteenth First Information Report (FIR) in connection with the coal scam.

"The PM cleared the decision... he is the final decision-maker," Parakh said on Wednesday.

Explaining his actions, Parakh said, "Mr Birla told the PM that we are the first applicant and are equally eligible and competent and our request has been unfairly rejected. He also met me and made a similar representation. I found there was merit because they (Hindalco) were the first applicant."

The coal scam had sprung into headlines after the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) report on coal block allocation estimated a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the national exchequer owing to irregular allocations.

The CAG named 25 private companies as beneficiaries of coal block allocations in various states. They included companies like Essar Power, Hindalco, Tata Power, Tata Steel and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd.

(Posted on 18-10-2013)