Amid mounting pressure from the CBI, the coal ministry has intensified its hunt for key documents for the ongoing inquiry into the allocation process of coal blocks, only to discover that around 13 crucial files are missing from its domain.
A highly placed source in the government told The Indian Express that the coal ministry has recently discovered that two key files of 1990 and 1993 related to the Screening Committee meetings are yet to be traced — the files that the CBI is pursuing with the ministry.
On Saturday, coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal conceded for the first time that some crucial files pertaining to the alleged irregularities in allocation of captive coal blocks between1993-2004 have gone missing from the records.
Jaiswal’s admission on the missing files is bound to lend further credence to the CBI’s contention that it has not been getting the needed cooperation from the coal ministry.
Ashwani Kumar, who held the law portfolio, had to resign in the wake of revelations that he had vetted the draft probe report of the CBI regarding the coal block allocations.
Coal ministry officials have widened their search for these documents in Shastri Bhawan — that houses the ministry — and Delhi-based offices of Coal India (CIL) and Ranchi-based Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI).
One such key file pertaining to the recommendation made by Congress MP Vijay Darda for the Bander coal block in Maharashtra, allocated to AMR Iron and Steel and referred by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), is non-traceable.
After an intensive search, the ministry is now planning to ask the PMO to help by providing a copy of its reference to the block, the source said. With the ongoing search gathering a fresh momentum, some more documents are likely to be handed over to the CBI soon, the source added.
So wary is the coal ministry on the missing files that an inter-ministerial search committee set up by it had met recently chaired by additional secretary AK Dubey to discuss ways to resort to a targeted hunt for documents requisitioned by the CBI.
The committee has appealed to concerned ministries like steel and power and companies like Coal India to help in retrieving the missing documents. The source said that the CBI had early this month asked the coal ministry to expressly furnish the copies of all applications received for 45 blocks allocated between 1993-2005 and application copies of 157