Indian Express reported that the coal ministry has blamed the ongoing CBI investigations for delays in signing of fuel supply agreements with power companies.

The ministry has said Cabinet Secretary Mr Ajit Seth that Coal India should not be compelled to execute the Presidential Directive of signing the fuel supply agreements without verifying afresh the investment plans of the companies applying for coal linkages.

The ministry was ticked off by the Cabinet Secretariat last week for the slow progress made by Coal India in signing the agreements. But the coal ministry has said that hurrying the decisions could create an opportunity for officials to bypass procedures. The letter noted that “As you are aware we are dealing with a sensitive sector and hence all issues need to be thoroughly examined and scrutinized before final decisions are taken.”

The Central Vigilance Commission, too, had recently held the CIL management responsible for improper scrutiny of milestones, following which the firm was asked to ensure a thorough check on the progress made by the aspirant companies before proceeding to provide them coal. But this has put the ministry in difficulty as the government on July 18th has imposed a Presidential directive on CIL to sign coal supply pacts to bring 78,000 MW capacity of power to life, within 2 years.

The coal ministry is in the middle of a controversy in Parliament as the Opposition has alleged crucial files related to the probe in the allocation of coal mines has been misplaced by the ministry. Prime Minister Mr Manmohan Singh was in charge of the ministry in the period being investigated.

In this context coal secretary Mr Sanjay Kumar Srivastava has noted that his officers are over burdened and that too is partially holding up the signing of the coal supply agreements.

He said that “Needless to say that ours is a small ministry and the officers are quite over-burdened with lot of issues connected with the Supreme Court, CBI investigation, CAG reports, public accounts committee, parliamentary standing committees, etc.”

He has, however, held out a hope that the progress made in this connection would be reviewed by August 30 and a detailed status note sent to the cabinet secretariat, thereafter.

The ministry argued that CIL as a responsible corporate entity cannot be compelled to execute FSAs as under the laws of the land it is governed by a board, although the company has asked all its subsidiaries on August 3rd to expedite inking of FSAs.

Courtesy – Indian Express