10th March, New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today filed the first chargesheet in connection with multi-crore coal block allocation scam. The chargesheet has been filed against Navabharat Power Private Limited and its two directors. The Ruia brothers promoted Essar Power acquired Navabharat for Rs. 230 crore, in two tranches in July 2010 and April 2011, thereby giving the promoters of Navbharat a neat profit of Rs. 200 crore. Essar Power is already under the scanner of CAG for the coal blocks allotted to it for Mahan and Tori projects. Last month, the Inter Ministerial Group of government on coal blocks had de-allocated two other coal mines belonging to the group - Ashok Karkatta and Chakla mines in Jharkhand.
"This charge-sheet against Navbharat Power is an insight into Essar's murky dealings. The group acquiring access to a coal block through acquisition of Navbharat Power seems suspiciously similar to the CBI charge Essar is facing in respect of acquisition of spectrum through a front company, Loop Telecom. In both cases, Essar appears to have used these little known companies with inadequate net worth to corner natural resources in a circuitous way," said Arundhati Muthu, Campaigner, Greenpeace India.
Greenpeace has been trying to highlight such crony capitalism while demanding cancellation of the Mahan coal block (Singrauli district in Madhya Prdadesh) jointly allocated to Hindalco and Essar in suspicious circumstances. In 2006, during the 'Coalgate' era, the Mahan coal block was allocated to the joint venture following an abrupt and unexplained change in the positions of the Screening Committee, which had initially rejected Essar's application.
Essar Power are currently facing the groundswell protest in Mahan from the local communities who are determined not to allow the Mahan forests to be mined in spite of the Stage II clearances granted by the Veerappa Moily led Environment Ministry recently.The in-principal Stage I clearance was granted to Mahan coal block in 2012 with 36 conditions, which included implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA). This involved holding free and fair Gram Sabhas in villages that would then decide on whether they want a mine or not. On 6th March 2013, a special Gram Sabha on FRA was conducted in Amelia village in Mahan region. Though 184 people attended the Gram Sabha, the resolution has 1,125, signatures – villagers say that most of them have been forged. Nine of the signatories have been dead for three years. Besides this, 27 residents of Amelia have given written testimonies that they were not present during the Gram Sabha.
"This fraudulent Gram Sabha seems to be the basis on which the Stage II clearance was given to Mahan coal block. This is illegal and against the provisions of FRA and should be thoroughly investigated. Greenpeace and forest communities living in Mahan are determined to continue their fight to protect the Mahan forests from coal mining by Essar," said Priya Pillai, Senior Campaigner with Greenpeace India.
For further information, please contact:
Arundhati Muthu, Campaigner, Greenpeace, , +91-9880639937
Jagori Dhar, Senior Media Officer, Greenpeace, , +91-9811200481