A special CBI court in Ranchi has fixed 3rd October for pronouncement of the sentence against RJD chief Lalu Yadav, former CM Jagannath Mishra and others in the fodder scam
Lalu Prasad Yadav, the chief of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Jagannath Mishra, former chief minister of Bihar are among the 45 convicted by the special Court of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the multi-crore fodder scam.
Other accused includes six politicians and four IAS officers. The all are convicted for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs37.7 crore from the Chaibasa treasury.
The Court has fixed 3rd October for pronouncement of sentence against Yadav, Mishra and others.
The fodder scam was a corruption scandal that involved the embezzlement of about Rs950 crore (equivalent to Rs2,000 crore or $310 million in 2013) from the government treasury of Bihar. Among those implicated in the theft and arrested were Lalu Yadav, the then chief minister of Bihar as well as former CM Mishra. The scandal led to the end of Yadav's reign as chief minister of Bihar. On 25 July 1997, Lalu resigned from his position, but installed his wife Ravri Devi as the new chief minister of Bihar. On 28 July 1997, Rabri's new government won another vote of confidence in the Bihar legislature by 194–110, thanks to the Congress and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha voting in alignment with the RJD.
There were also allegation on Nitish Kumar and Shivanand Tiwari of receiving Rs1 crore and Rs60 lakh, respectively from SB Sinha.
The theft spanned many years, and allegedly involved numerous administrative and elected officials across multiple administrations of the Congress and the Janata Dal parties. The corruption scheme involved the fabrication of "vast herds of fictitious livestock" for which fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment was supposedly procured.
Although the scandal broke in 1996, the theft had been in progress, and increased in size, for over two decades. Besides the magnitude and duration of the theft, the scam was and continues to be covered in Indian media due to the extensive nexus between tenured bureaucrats, elected politicians and businesspeople that it revealed, and as an example of the mafia raj that has penetrated several state-run economic sectors in the country.
As of May 2013, the trial has completed in 44 cases out of a total of 53 cases. More than 500 accused have been convicted and awarded punishments by various courts.
In 1992, Bidhu Bhushan Dvivedi, a police inspector with Bihar's anti-corruption vigilance unit submitted a report outlining the fodder scam and likely involvement at the chief ministerial level to the director general of the same vigilance unit, G Narayan. In alleged reprisal, Dvivedi was transferred out of the vigilance unit to a different branch of the administration, and then suspended from his position. He later became a witness as corruption cases relating to the scam went to trial, and reinstated by order of the Jharkhand High Court.
The only thing that can take the market higher is the absence of bad news
Time is the essence of these contracts, particularly, when power is in short supply, and, even after obtaining the coal blocks, it would take sometime before coal can be dug out for supplies to the power plant
In the next three to five years, Odisha can look forward to the development of four coal mines that the Ministry of Coal plans to auction in January next year. This is likely to facilitate the development of Sundargarh UMPP (Ultra Mega Power Project), designed to generate 4,000 MW of power from Odisha Integrated Power Ltd.
These coal mines are located in the Talchar fields, Brahmbil, Phuljhari (east and west), and Kordabehal, and these are likely to come under the hammer. The RFQ (Request for Quotation) for Sundargarh, by global invitation, has been issued on 25th September. This is a design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) project and the last date for submission has been stated as 10th November 2013.
According to information available, this is the first of the three 4,000 UMPPs the
government plans to do in Odisha. The others are Serkhigopal (Serkhigopal
Integrated Power Company Ltd) and Ghogarpalli (Ghogarpalli Integrated Power
Only last week, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the policy for coal block auction, based on competitive bidding. Further details are expected shortly.
A detailed study of the documents reveals that, if necessary, precautions have been taken to ensure that the bidding is restricted to power generating companies that are not involved in the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) investigations and that they have a clean business record for development. In the next few weeks, one may be able to know the likely or prospective candidates who may make the bids.
It is of interest to note that Vedanta group, led by Anil Agarwal, may also participate in the RFQ process, as a start. Their subsidiary, Sterlite Energy, already operates a 2,400 MW thermal power plant at Jharasaguda and their overall plans are to operate 10,000 MW of power, and are in the process of setting up a 1,980 MW plant at Talwandi Sabo in Punjab, which is likely to go into stream by October 2014.
The crucial points to consider in the Talchar field auction of the above coal blocks relate to the present status of the environmental clearances that are required to be completed. On one hand, the Odisha government would do well to expeditiously take steps to study and be prepared to offer assistance to the successful bidder at the auctions. In other words, they need to take pre-emptive measures to ensure that the successful bidder does not grope in the dark after getting the contract. Likewise, the bidders too must do the homework because of our history of successful bidders not being able to commence work within a reasonable time after the awards are made.
Time is the essence of these contracts, particularly when power is in short supply, and, even after obtaining the coal blocks, it would take sometime before coal can be dug out for supplies to the plant. The preparation should be that development of the coal blocks must be such as to be able to deliver the coal before the trial runs can be made at the power plant!
A tall order, no doubt, but efforts are to be made to achieve such goals.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)