Even as the opposition parties attacked the Centre on the issue of missing files related to the coal blocks allocation scam, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath on Monday said the Congress-led UPA Government has nothing to hide.
“I don’t think there is anything that the government has to hide,” he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants the government to urgently explain in Parliament why and how important files that explain how coal fields were allocated to private firms are missing.
Senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu has said it is ‘shameful’ on the government’s part and it should explain as to what exactly happened and who are responsible for it.
“It is very shocking and shameful for the government and it should issue a clarification and explain to the people what exactly is the position, who is responsible for this. What has happened and how it has happened, all these things should be placed before the public,” he said.
Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal yesterday admitted that some files from 1993 to 2004 were missing and a committee headed by an Additional Secretary of the ministry is inquiring into it.
"It's true that some files from 1993 to 2004 are missing. We are trying to get the copies of those files ready," he said.
Jaiswal further said that the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited (CMPDI), Ministry of Steel and Ministry of Cement have also been asked to return the files if they have them.
He added that the Coal Ministry has given 768 files to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the investigation was still in process.
The CBI had on July 31 said that at least five crucial files related to allotment of coal blocks during 2006-09 have not been received by it despite providing specific details.
The CBI has so far registered 13 cases related to block allotments during 2006-09 for alleged misrepresentation of facts by the beneficiaries while applying for the blocks.
The Coal Ministry had earlier in June constituted an Inter-ministerial panel to look into the issue of missing files. The panel has so far held one meeting.
The Coal Ministry had some time back informed a Parliamentary committee that it is trying to locate lost and missing files on coal block allocation after the Supreme Court said that the Centre was not aiding CBI with documents in its probe.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on coal block allocation stated that nearly 150 coalfields were allotted to private and state-run firms without transparency and objectivity between 2005 and 2009.
The BJP has held Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh responsible and demanded his resignation for what has been estimated as loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crores to the national exchequer by the CAG in coal block allocation.
The CAG report does not indict the Prime Minister or his office, but the BJP is emphasizing that the Prime Minister held direct charge of the Coal Ministry for the years under scrutiny.
However, the Prime Minister had rejected the CAG’s observations as ‘misleading’ and ‘flawed’, and blamed the opposition parties for thwarting the efforts of his government to bring a policy of competitive bidding.
Dr. Singh also ruled out any possibility of quitting the top post despite the BJP firm on its demand for his resignation over the coal blocks allocation issue.