The Enforcement Directorate has registered a money laundering case against Jindal Strips Limited and unknown Coal Ministry officials in connection with the allocation of Gare Palma IV/1 coal block to the company.
The ED has initiated investigations based on a case of alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation last October. The CBI probe revealed that instead of adhering to the rate of extraction of coal as provided in the approved mine plan, the company (presently Jindal Steel and Power Limited) allegedly resorted to illegal excess mining.
While the approved coal production for the firm during 1998-2003 was 1.35 metric tonne, the
actual coal production by the firm was allegedly 5.9 metric tonne, an excess of 4.55 metric tonne.
There was an alleged excess mining in all the five years against the rate approved in the mine plan, and no prior permission was obtained from the Coal Ministry for revised mine plan in 2004, the agencies allege.
Despite the irregularities, apart from the allocation of a block with coal reserve much beyond the proposed requirement, the Coal Ministry approved the company’s revised mine plan in 2005 and did not initiate any action against it.
The firm allegedly continued excess coal extraction in 2003-05 without any approval. The excess coal mined during this period has been pegged by the investigators as 1.431 metric tonne, besides 4.55 metric tonne.
The agencies allege that the accused firm misappropriated coal through excess mining and got the excess coal mined regularised in alleged connivance with unknown Coal Ministry officials.
According to the CBI, the Coal Ministry and Coal Controller had permitted sale of coal fines and middling in open market. The company allegedly resorted to such sale not only to specified end users but also to several other firms, which traded it further in violation of permitted conditions, thus allegedly earning undue benefit. The accused company also supplied raw coal to Nalwa Steel and Power Limited, agencies allege.
It is learnt that the ED is also planning to attach assets in connection with another case registered against former Congress MP and director of Jindal Steel and Power Limited Naveen Jindal, former Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayana Rao and others for alleged conspiracy to obtain a Jharkhand coal block on false representations. The case pertains to joint allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal block in Birbhum to JSPL and Gagan Sponge Iron Private Limited.