Hyderabad: The Central Bureau of Investigation has questioned former coal minister Dasari Narayana Rao in connection with the coal block allocation to Hindalco in Odisha. He was questioned at the CBI headquarters in New Delhi on Monday.
A first information report (FIR) has already been issued regarding the alleged irregularities in allocation of the Talabira-II coal block in which the Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumarmangalam Birla and former coal secretary P.C. Parakh are named as accused.
The key allegation in Mr Rao’s case is that the coal block was allocated to Hindalco despite the screening committee recommending Neyveli Lignite Limited, a public sector undertaking.
Mr Rao was minister of state in the coal ministry from 2004 to 2008. In his recent book — Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other Truths — Mr Parakh mentioned the role of Mr Narayana Rao in the coal allocations.
Mr Rao told reporters after he was questioned: “I am not involved in the coal scam. I have signed (the files) only after a 40-member committee okayed it. I have been away from politics for the past four years due to the CBI probe. I will come out innocent. ”Mr Rao has also been named in an FIR earlier pertaining to the coal block allocation to Naveen Jindal.
It was alleged that Mr Rao received Rs 2.25 crore camouflaged as investment from one of Mr Jindal’s firms within a year of allocating him a coal block.
The CBI had earlier conducted searches of Mr Rao’s house and company Sowbhagya Media Private Limited in Hyderabad. Mr Rao and Mr Jindal have been booked under Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy), and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code and section 13(1) (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act in that case.