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Trying to trace lost files for CBI: Coal Min to PAC

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Trying to trace lost files for CBI: Coal Min to PAC
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New Delhi: Coal Ministry Friday informed a Parliamentary committee that it is trying to locate lost and missing files on coal block allocation in the wake of Supreme Court slamming the Centre for not helping CBI with documents in its coalgate probe.

Coal Secretary S K Srivastava, who appeared before Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said he has received a list of documents, including files required by CBI for its probe.

He said his officials were trying to locate lost and missing files from various sources, including other ministries to help the agency in its probe. The other ministries include Environment and Forest and Power.

CBI claims that although it has been sifting through an enormous mass of information regarding coal block allocations that the CAG has said caused a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the government, it is being impaired by lack of access to relevant files.

The agency is investigating some 194 allocations since 1993.

Srivastava, however, was not sure about the number of files demanded by CBI.

The Coal Secretary was also asked about the presence of a ministry Joint Secretary in the controversial meeting which took place in the room of then Law Minister Ashwani Kumar.

He said the official was present as he was aware of the subject and had no role in advising the CBI.

Asked why the government did not go for competitive bidding, he said the experiment of giving away six coal blocks through this route was not successful.

He said the system of competitive bidding would also not help increase steel, cement and power production.

Sources said Srivastava conceded that consumers have not actually benefited by providing cheap coal to steel, cement and power industry through captive blocks.

In an earlier PAC meeting, CBI chief Ranjit Sinha had told the panel that information sought by the agency has not been made available. He, however, had not pointed that efforts were being made to stonewall the probe.

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