Coalgate: Assocham writes to PM, to end environment of distrust

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New Delhi, October 23:  Seeking an end to lodging of half baked cases against the industry leaders, business chamber Assocham has written to Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention to end what it called environment of distrust which could further hamper decision making.

“We find ourselves in a situation where half-baked cases are being slapped against top leaders of the industry and retired bureaucrats based on perceptions, interpretations and mere inferences. We fear that more industrialists could be targets of the CBI probes which in all likelihood would not bring out any substantial evidence of any wrongdoing, but the problem is that the reputation of individual enterprises gets jolted,” the chamber said in a letter to Prime Minister in the aftermath of the Kumar Mangalam Birla case.

Earlier this month, the CBI had filed a case against Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman Aditya Birla Group and his company Hindalco, for alleged corruption in the allocation of Talabira-II coal blocks in Odisha which was allotted to it on November 10, 2005.

The letter said the overall investment climate of doing business in India gets vitiated and is marked by distrust” due to such happenings. “Sir, we are afraid, if this environment of distrust continues, the decision making will get further hampered,” the letter added.

“The CBI cases against well respected industrialists and former senior bureaucrats are something we can ill-afford at this point of time when our economy is facing a tremendous loss of investor and consumer confidence,” the Chamber said.

Wondering how inferences could be drawn if industry leaders go and meet senior bureaucrats and Ministers, Assocham said amid an environment of mistrust and unsubstantiated allegations of scams, decision-makers could shy away from taking decisions. “It is observed that decision-makers in the government would prefer not to take decisions, lest they are hounded by investigative agencies even after their retirement,” it added.

The industry body sought support from the Prime Minister for restoration of confidence and spirit of enterprise while emphasising that the job of the government is not only to regulate but also to facilitate enterprise.

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