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Niira Radia tapes: CBI lens on Sasan coal block

Niira Radia tapes: CBI lens on Sasan coal block
NEW DELHI: The CBI on Friday registered its 14th preliminary enquiry (PE) into the Niira Radia tapes to probe coal block allocation for a power project in Sasan (Madhya Pradesh) run by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG).

The PE was registered on the directions of the Supreme Court which had asked the CBI to probe 14 issues based on Radia’s recorded conversations with influential people. CBI had earlier registered PEs to probe supply of low floor buses by Tata Motors to Tamil Nadu government, grant of spectrum and alleged market manipulations and hammering of stocks by Unitech among other matters.

The CBI has also registered PEs to look into alleged favours shown to the then director general hydrocarbons by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd, working of touts and middlemen in aviation sector and income tax officials for alleged abuse of their official position.

CBI sources said the 14th PE was registered to probe allotment of coal blocks to Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project run by ADAG and that the agency would have to file a status report to the Supreme Court by December 15.

An ADAG spokesperson said in a statement, “We welcome the independent time-bound enquiries by the CBI, monitored by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, which will clearly establish our bona fides, and once and for all prove beyond doubt that we have been the unfortunate victims of a mischievous campaign of calumny and vilification conducted at the behest of our unscrupulous corporate rivals over the past five years.

“The allocation of coal mines to the Sasan project was done to a 100% government-owned company in the year 2006 when our company Reliance Power had not even won the project. Government disinvested its shares to Reliance pursuant to a global tender in the year 2007. The use of surplus coal from the Sasan UMPP has been approved on two separate occasions by two EGoMs.”

A bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi had identified 14 issues which were framed by an apex court-appointed probe team on the analysis of the tapped conversations of Radia with bureaucrats, politicians, corporate tycoons and jpournalists. In its October 17 order, the court ordered a CBI probe into these issues.

The bench had said, “Issues are prima facie indicative of deep rooted malaise in the system of which advantage has been taken by private enterprises in collaboration and connivance with government officers and others. The conversations between Niira Radia and her associates with various persons suggest that unscrupulous elements have used corrupt means to secure favours from the government officers, who appear to have acted for extraneous considerations.”