Indian PM breaks silence on missing coal scam file

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday broke his silence over the “missing” coal blocks allocation files, saying that the government had nothing to hide in the case and anyone found guilty would be punished.

The coal scam came to light last year after state auditors alleged that the country lost 33 billion U.S. dollars as the Indian government allocated coalfields to private companies at below market rates in the years up to 2009.

India’s opposition angrily denounced the government on Aug. 19, 2013 after the coal ministry admitted it had lost some files and was unable to turn them over to a high-profile corruption enquiry.

India’s premier probe agency, the federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), is investigating how the coal ministry, which was headed by current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from 2004-2009, allocated mining licenses. The issue has also irked the Supreme Court which is currently hearing the coal scam case.

“The government is making all efforts to facilitate the CBI probe. It has provided most of the papers requisitioned by the CBI. However, some people have gone ahead and drawn a conclusion that the government has done something fishy. The government has nothing to hide,” the Prime Minister told Rajya Sabha, or the Upper House of Parliament.

“We have already handed over 1,50,000 papers to the CBI for the probe. Clearly, we want to cooperate with the CBI in its probe. The government will follow the Supreme Court order in action. It will hand over the files in the stipulated time. In case the government is unable to provide some documents, we will act according to the instructions,” he added.

India is one of the world’s largest coal producers. NNI