PM could have averted coal scam: Parakh

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The former Coal Secretary released his book “Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other Truths” in New Delhi on Monday.

Former Coal Secretary P.C. Parakh on Monday said the coal scam could have been avoided had Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pushed for reforms, including e-marketing and open auction of coal blocks, as recommended by him.

“Had the Prime Minister used his authority behind the reforms proposal, it [coal scam] could have been avoided,” said Mr. Parakh after the release of his book Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other Truths.

He added that former Coal Ministers Shibu Soren and Dasari Narayana Rao, besides many parliamentarians and industrialists, had objected to the reforms.

Mr. Parakh, against whom the CBI has registered a case in connection with the allocation of an Odisha coal block to Hindalco, virtually gave a clean-chit to the PM saying whatever positive work he could do as Coal Secretary was when the Ministry was under Dr. Singh.

“The Prime Minister gave me full support. He also supported reforms in the Coal Ministry. We were able to get a lot of work done because of his proactive role,” he said.

Defending his role in the allocation of the Talabira-II coal block to Hindalco, Mr. Parakh questioned the CBI decision to register a case against him.

“I am not saying there was a conspiracy, but if the CBI thought there was a conspiracy, then a conspiracy has to be between people who take decisions. So you had the Prime Minister who had finally taken the decision. If I am part of the conspiracy, he [the PM] has to be a part of the conspiracy,” said the 68-year-old former IAS officer.

Asked about the timing of the book launch, which was released by retired Supreme Court Justice G.S. Singhvi and former Cabinet Secretary T.S.R. Subramanian, Mr. Parakh said he had been working on it for several years.

“My book is essentially about the degradation in our political system. I show in this book how we initiate our public servants into corruption. How we had Chief Ministers and Chief Secretaries in the past, who taught us to work with honesty and dedication. We have reached a situation where Chief Secretaries, instead of being honest advisers to the government, have become supine and totally flexible servants to their political masters,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s Office on Monday said the matter relating to exploitation of coal reserves was under judicial scrutiny and the UPA government had nothing to hide in the matter.

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