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Coalgate: Sahai denies Allotment Allegations

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TNI Bureau: Rejecting the coal charges, Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai said that he had played no role in the allocation of coal blocks. He targeted the BJP saying, the party has been frustrated, therefore accusing him.

At a press conference on Friday, Sahai responded to the BJP’s charges saying, he had not pressurised the Prime Minister’s Office for allocating coal blocks to SKS Ispat and Power, a company with which the minister’s family was involved.

However, Sahai was reportedly present along with the director of SKS Ispat and Power at the 36th meeting of the screening committee of the coal ministry, held on February 7, 2008, when the coal block was allotted to the firm.

Instead of clarifying BJP’s allegations, he blasted on the party saying, BJP is known for its blatant lies. “I have no role in coal allocation. But since the judgment is being misinterpreted, I decided to hold this press conference”, he said.

“The true face of the BJP is the Prakash Industries, the Chhattisgarh government and the Reddy brothers. They are frustrated and that is why they are acting like this – inside and outside Parliament”, he said.

Citing the order passed by Justice S Murlidhar of the Delhi high court of May 18, 2010, he said that the party has decided to launch a country-wide bogus campaign against Congress since the party was defeated in the court.

He said that Arun Jaitley was fighting the case of Prakash Industries, which have been accused of evading excise duties.

However, the BJP has a different story to say. The party alleged that Sahai, who was the then minister of state (independent charge) for food processing industries, on February 5, 2008, had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asking for his ‘personal intervention’ for the allotment of coal blocks for SKS Ispat and Power’s steel plants in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

Sahai wrote, “I would like to bring to your kind notice that M/s SKS Ispat and Power Limited have applied for two coal blocks for their steel plants in the state of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand… I shall be grateful for your personal intervention in this matter”. The PMO within 24 hours had asked the coal ministry to allot coal blocks in favour of SKS Ispat and Power.

Again on February 7, the screening committee met to consider the proposals of the applicants. The committee finalised its recommendations on February 8 allotting the Vijay Central coal block in Chhattisgarh to SKS Ispat and Power and Prakash Industries jointly.

While SKS Ispat was recommended 16.08% share of the block, Prakash Industries was given 2.7% of the extractable reserves of the block. Earlier, the SKS was allotted the Fatehpur coal block in Chhattisgarh during the 35th meeting of the screening committee.

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