CBI questions former coal secretary Parakh

New Delhi, May 1: Former coal secretary P.C. Parakh appeared before officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on THursday for questioning in connection with a case of allegedly abusing his official position to grant an Odisha-based coal block to Hindalco.

“I have already said what I had to say. Let me see what they want to ask,” Parakh told reporters before entering the CBI headquarters here earlier in the day.

Last month, in a memoir titled “Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other Truths”, Parakh had reiterated that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the Coal Minister in 2004, had been unable to prevent his own junior ministers from blocking a move towards a more transparent system of bidding for coal blocks.

Parakh has said in the book, “After the Prime Minister approved open bidding in 2004, letters poured in opposing the move. A few Ministers of States tried to scuttle the proposal, but the Prime Minister remained silent on their repeated attempts to stall open bidding.”

Claiming that the Prime Minister was heading a government in which he had “little” political authority,Parakh said Dr.Singh was unable to counter vested interests within his party and government.

The book, however, says that it must be said to the credit of the Prime Minister, that at no time did the Prime Minister’s Office make any recommendations or exert pressure in favour of any party.

Parakh, who retired as Coal Secretary in December 2005, recalled an incident when he had gone to meet the Prime Minister on a farewell call after submitting his resignation to the then Cabinet Secretary B.K.Chaturvedi.

Parakh, 68, said he had submitted his resignation after BJP MP Dharmendra Pradhan had insulted him during a parliamentary Standing Committee meeting. He said that he had expressed his concern over the insult and humiliation that members of Parliament heap on civil servants and senior executives of public service undertakings.

Parakh said the Prime Minister expressed his anguish and stated that “he (Singh) faced similar problems every day. But it would not be in the national interest, if he was to offer his resignation on every such issue.”

Parakh says in the book that there was little chance of lasting reform in the coal sector with the limitations within which the Prime Minister functioned. (ANI with inputs)