Alleging that there was no transparency in the manner in which the coal block was allocated, Greenpeace India said the Power Ministry had informed the CBI that it did not recommend Hindalco for the Mahan coal block. Similarly, the allocation to Essar Power was initially rejected by both the Madhya Pradesh government and the Screening Committee but both these decisions were later reversed, with no explanation whatsoever.
The CBI had earlier charged the Aditya Birla Group and its chairman of forgery, cheating and financial misrepresentation on the Talabira allocation. The latest revelations raise concern over all coal allocations made between 2004 and 2009.
Explains Arundhati Muthu, Greenpeace campaigner, "The investigation into the allocation of the Mahan block should be extended to include Essar Power as well. The Madhya Pradesh government had strongly objected to the allocation to both Essar and Hindalco on March 1, 2005, but did a U-turn just three weeks later, recommending Essar, but not Hindalco, to the Ministry of Coal on March 23, 2005."
The Ministry of Power then forwarded this same recommendation to the Screening Committee. The Screening Committee, which had originally denied the allocation to Essar in its meeting on March 1, 2005, then changed its mind without any explanation, giving the block to Essar and Hindalco in 2006.
"There is an urgent need to fully investigate the Mahan coal block allocation and suspend all further movement on the ground until this is complete," adds Muthu.
The mining of the Mahan coal block is to be done by Mahan Coal Ltd – a joint venture between Essar Power and Hindalco. The company is facing protests from local villagers, whose rights over the forest have not been recognised.
Greenpeace has been campaigning against the development of the Mahan coal block by Essar and Hindalco. "We demand that the clearances for all coal blocks allocated during the period in question should be put on hold till the completion of the Supreme Court monitored probe," concludes Muthu.
For more information, contact:
Arundhati Muthu: 09880639937;
Anindita Datta Choudhury: 09871515804;
Jagori Dhar: 09811200481;