Former coal secretary PC Parakh, who is called as an upright, competent and honest officer by several former bureaucrats and activists, said the PM holds highest responsibility as he took final decision to allocate the blocks
In a twist to the coalgate scam, Prakash Chandra (PC) Parakh, former secretary for coal has raised questions over the probe by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the role played by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in allocation of coal blocks.
Asking the CBI to scrap the probe, the former secretary in an interview to CNN-IBN, said, "In my view, there is no scam. But, if there is a conspiracy, then there are different members in this conspiracy. There is Kumar Mangalam Birla who made the representation, he is one conspirator. I, who examined the case and made a recommendation, I can be another conspirator and the Prime Minister, who as the Coal Minister, took the final decision, is the third conspirator.”
"Dasari Narayan Rao (the then minister of state for coal) must also be questioned in this case as the file had gone through him as well. Since the final decision (to allocate the coal block) was taken by the Prime Minister, his responsibility is the highest (in this case)," Parakh said.
On Tuesday, the CBI registered a first information report (FIR) against Parakh as well as the chairman of Aditya Birla group and Hindalco Industries Ltd.
Several prominent bureaucrats as well activists have called Parakh as an upright, competent and honest officer. Even the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report in August 2012 considered the former secretary as whistleblower. CAG had lauded Parakh for opposing the present system of allocating coal blocks by the screening committee comprising officers of concerned ministries.
EAS Sarma, former secretary to the government of India (GoI) said, "I feel distressed that his motives should be questioned in the allotment of coal blocks. I understand he was the first Coal Secretary to have formally opposed the non-transparent system of first-come-first-served scheme of allotment of coal blocks and recommended a more transparent system of auctioning. Despite his best efforts, he was overruled!"
"It is ironic that honest officers like Parakh should face investigations whereas dishonest politicians, corporates and officials should be let off. This will certainly erode the credibility of the government which has been on the decline anyway," Sarma said.
Even Greenpeace India has lauded the efforts of Parakh. In a statement, it said, "The investigation needs to go well beyond Parakh, to the ministers in charge of the decisions. The repeated delays in the introduction of the auction policy were a result of decisions taken by several ministers of the coal ministry, including the PM who intermittently held charge of the ministry. In fact, Parakh called for the creation of a transparent coal block auction policy, but was apparently over-ruled by other ministers."
VK Srinivasan, former additional secretary, Andhra Pradesh called Parakh as 'a diligent and straight-forward person', who has taken several decisions using his discretion and technical knowledge in relation to industry proposals. "In this case, while we have not had access to the material on record, one must remember that Prakash Parakh is a geologist and he was dealing with a proposal pending for a long time before he took charge as a coal secretary. The real issues are: whether there can be a techno-economic reason for Aditya Birla Group to get a share in the coal block," Srinivasan said.
Mere supervision or regulation of a body by government would not make that body a public authority, the apex court ruled
The Supreme Court while quashing a circular by Kerala government ruled that co-operative societies do not fall within the ambit of Right to Information (RTI). The Kerala government circular was issued to bring all such societies within the scope of the RTI Act.
A bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri said mere supervision or regulation of a body by government would not make that body a public authority and quashed the Kerala High Court's order holding the circular valid.
"Societies are, of course, subject to the control of the statutory authorities like Registrar, Joint Registrar and the Government. But cannot be said that the state exercises any direct or indirect control over the affairs of the society which is deep and all pervasive," the bench said
"Supervisory or general regulation under the statute over the co-operative societies, which are body corporate does not render activities of the body so regulated as subject to such control of the State so as to bring it within the meaning of the State or instrumentality of the State," it added.
The state government had informed the Registrar of Co-operative Societies in May 2006 that all institutions formed by laws made by State Legislature is a public authority and, therefore, all co-operative institutions coming under the administrative control of the Registrar of Co-operative Societies are also public authorities.
Quashing the state government's decision, the bench said that power exercised by the Registrar over the societies is merely supervisory and regulatory.
"The mere supervision or regulation as such by a statute or otherwise of a body would not make that body a public authority within the meaning of Section 2(h)(d)(i) of the Act. In other words just like a body owned or body substantially financed by the appropriate government, the control of the body by the appropriate government would also be substantial and not merely supervisory or regulatory," the bench added.
Phailin, which left a trail of devastation in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, uprooted scores of trees and electric poles disrupting the traffic movement, while at least three mobile towers were blown away under the impact of the high-speed wind
Berhampur, the biggest city in southern Odisha, on Monday looked like a war zone as cyclone Phailin left behind a trail of destruction. The cyclone accompanied by heavy rain hit Gopalpur, about 15 km from here, and battered the city and its nearby areas.
Meanwhile, the death toll in calamity ravaged Odisha mounted to 25 in the aftermath of cyclone Phailin that triggered heavy rains and floods in some districts. While 21 persons were killed due to the high velocity cyclone, four others died due to floods in Mayurbhanj and Bhadrak districts as heavy rains pounded most parts of the State, officials said.
Scores of trees and electric poles were uprooted disrupting the traffic movement, while at least three mobile towers were blown away under the impact of the high-speed wind.
Walls of various government buildings and private houses collapsed at many places in which two persons were killed, while decorated Durga puja pandals were blown aside.
The official machinery is fully engaged in rescue and relief operations and will take a couple of days to restore normalcy in cyclone-hit Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh.
Cyclone relief camps in the district have been closed as the people have reached their homes safely. It will take two to three days to restore electricity in remote villages, while the power supply has been restored at mandal headquarters.
The district has reported one casualty, as an old woman died during a wall collapse in Ichapuram mandal.
In Odisha, 8.73 lakh people were evacuated and in Andhra Pradesh 1.35 lakh people had been evacuated.
Central Government had deployed 18 army helicopters and 12 aircraft. Six relief columns of army with relief material had been sent to Odisha and 4 relief columns to Andhra Pradesh. Besides, two Navy ships and seven Navy helicopters with relief material were kept on standby.
As many as 26 NDRF teams were deployed in Odisha, 19 in Andhra Pradesh, three in West Bengal, three in Bihar and two in Jharkhand. 44 satellite phones had been given to officials in the affected areas, which helped unstinted communication during the worst phases of the cyclone.
Meanwhile, Phailin, which left a trail of devastation in Odisha, weakened into a deep depression yesterday.
“Phailin over Odisha moved northwards with a speed of 20 kmph during the past six hours, weakened further into a deep depression and lay centred at 5.30 p.m. on 13th October over north Chhattisgarh and adjoining areas of Odisha and Jharkhand near latitude 22.50 N and longitude 83.80 E, 70 km north-northwest of Jharsuguda,” IMD said.