Coalgate probe shall also cover iron ore, steel and power sectors

Former President of India Mrs. Pratibha Patil felicitating Manoj Jayaswal of Abhijeet Group

R.N.I. Exclusive

As details of ‘more wrongdoings’ are coming to surface it is becoming apparent that ‘the coal block allocation process was twisted and manipulated’ to suit a few close to seat of power. CBI has raided the premises of leading companies who were allocated coal blocks after public hue and cry literally forced the Government to take steps. BJP is sticking to its demand for cancellation of the 142 coal blocks allocated during UPA rule and has targeted Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal alleging that eight of his relatives are among the beneficiaries of the 34 coal blocks which were allotted since he took charge of the ministry. CBI has also raided the premises of Abhijeet Group, whose promoters – the Jaiswals – are said to have relations with the Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal, something that the minister denies vehemently.

Manoj Jayaswal with Hon’ble President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee

The Abhijeet Group’s promoters may or may not be related to the coal minister, what is apparent is that they had the support and backing of some very important people in the power corridors of governance. There is no denying the fact that their contacts spans the likes of Sonia Gandhi (UPA Chairperson), Farooq Abdullah, Salman Khurshid, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Murli Manohar Joshi (BJP), Prithvi Raj Chauhan (CM-Maharashtra), Raja Sanjay Singh, Rajeev Shukla, Rajnath Singh (BJP), Sheila Dikshit (CM-Delhi), Madhu Koda (CM-Jharkhand) and several top politicians.

Manoj Jayaswal with Rajiv Shukla and GK Vasan

The present and past Presidents of India Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil and the Vice President Hamid Ansari have all either graced their programs or felicitated the promoters of Abhijeet Group. Not just this, RNI has learnt from reliable sources that Abhijeet Group and its sister companies have been blessed and supported in the past by those in power, despite some blatant wrongdoings. Due to their great investments recently made in the field of power and steel, the probe against them shall also include allotments of iron ore and power projects, as well as the projects concerning development of highways and collecting toll tax, few other areas in which the group has made significant inroads.

Manoj Jayaswal with Rahul Bajaj

Abhijeet Group owned by Manoj Jayaswal has registered and corporate head office at Nagpur. Manoj Jaiswal, a close associate of Vijay Darda who was one of the promoters of JLD Yavatmal Energy, was allocated mines in Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh and Maharashtra and Dardas were his business partners. In an interview published recently, the Chairman of Jayaswal Neco – who happens to

Manoj Jayaswal with Rajnath Singh

be father of Manoj Jayaswal – has claimed that the company that started with ‘zero’ rupees in pockets has been taken by the sons to a business worth Rs. 25000 crore. This whopping rise in fortunes does not include the assets of other companies including the Abhijeet Group. Jayaswal Neco too has its registered office at Nagpur. This is to be recalled that in as recently as June 2010, Jayaswal Neco board had approved demerger of steel biz of Corporate Ispat Alloys Ltd. (a subsidiary of Abhijeet Group) with self. It issued 3 shares of company to every 2 of CIAL.

Manoj Jayaswal with Farooq Abdullah

Earlier this year, the Chhatisgarh government had filed a writ petition in the Delhi high court against the Central Government over Jayaswal Neco Ltd’s applications for mining leases in a case that threw light on the murky world of mining in India. The State had alleged that the mid-sized steel-maker forged documents in its applications to get iron-ore mining leases in Rowghat in Bastar district in Chhatisgarh and that the Union government directed it to consider the application favourably – even after the state showed investigative reports that said Jayaswal Neco had allegedly faked paperwork to show it had conducted prospecting (preliminary exploration) in Rowghat when it had actually not done so. It is to be stated that the iron ore reserves in Rowghat are said to be around 28000 crore tonnes, valued at Rs. 80,000 crore.

Manoj Jayaswal with Jyotiraditya Scindia and Salman Khurshid

The CBI had filed an FIR against Jayaswal Neco, charging it with committing forgery and fraud to acquire mining leases in Rowghat. At that time the CBI official had stated publicly that ‘besides the private company, some officials of the Union ministry of mines are also under the scanner.’

According to CBI sources, Jayaswal Neco had received four prospecting licences (PLs) for an area of 1,601.47 hectares in and around Rowghat iron ore deposits A, B, C, D and E of then undivided Madhya Pradesh in 1999. In 2000, the company made an application to the Chhatisgarh government, seeking mining leases (MLs) in the same area – claiming preferential rights under the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act.

Manoj Jayaswal with Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Vijay Darda

The ML applications remained pending for almost seven years. In 2007, the Chhattisgarh government rejected Jayaswal Neco’s applications, claiming that the company didn’t submit any statutory prospecting report that was necessary for consideration of the mining lease application.

The Chhattisgarh government requested the CBI to take up the probe after Jayaswal Neco produced prospecting reports during later proceedings. It reportedly became suspicious after noting that the reports – apparently created in May 2000 – contained references to the ‘Chhattisgarh government’ and ‘Chhattisgarh forest department’ when the actual state was formed only six months later – in November 2000.

Manoj Jayaswal with Murli Manohar Joshi

Besides this, the acknowledgment letter issued by the Office of the Regional Controller, Indian Bureau of Mines, was also suspected to be forged. The case got buried in files until the flashlights were redirected towards the company after Coalgate scam.

Stating on the events, the legal adviser to Jayaswal Neco had then commented: “The CBI FIR has been filed on the basis of vigilance probe conducted by the ministry of mines, but the probe was nullified by the Central Vigilance Commission. We have moved the Delhi high court for quashing the CBI FIR. At a later stage, we also intend to move for launching malicious prosecution against the company in this matter.”

Manoj Jayaswal with Hon’ble President Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and Prithviraj Chauhan

In recent times, CIAL has signed an MoU with the Jharkhand government for setting up 2.5 mtpa integrated steel plant at Seraikela-Kharsawan district. Meanwhile, Corporate Power Ltd. (CPL), another flagship company of Abhijeet Group, is setting up a 1215 MW power plant at Balunath (Latehar district),  through an MoU with state government. Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh okayed sanctioning of 100 MW power plant by Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) for MIHAN SEZ  to Abhijeet Group. The company also announced plans for setting up 1215 MW power plant in Yawatmal district under the banner of Jawaharlal Darda Yawatmal Energy Ltd. In relation to sanctioning of 1200 MW proposed power project at Chandwa, Abhishek Jayaswal (Director, Abhijeet Group) met Jharkhand CM Madhu Koda recently. Commenting on the venture, he said to media persons: “After allotment of coal blocks in our kitty, the group has increased its activities in other areas (iron-ore, steel and power).

Manoj Jayaswal with Raja Sanjay Singh

When Afghanistan’s mining ministry opened the bids for the estimated 1.8 billion metric tonnes of ore at Hajigak, 100 kilometers west of Kabul, Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) and NMDC Ltd. (NMDC), offered a bid as part of an effort by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government for a bigger role in a nearby country whose stability it called essential. Interestingly, while the Indian group included state-owned Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd. and private-sector companies JSW Steel Ltd. (JSTL), Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. (JSP), Monnet Ispat Ltd. and JSW Ispat Steel Ltd., the Abhijeet Group company ‘Corporate Ispat Alloys Ltd.’ decided to bid separately for one of the four blocks. As per US government’s estimates Hajigak holds $1 trillion in untapped minerals.

Upon receiving the news of bid opening, SAIL Chairman Mr. C.S. Verma had said: “This is the first time that Indian public and private sector companies have come together to jointly bid for an iron ore asset abroad. With

Manoj Jayaswal with CM Delhi, Shiela Dikshit

Afghanistan holding strategic interest for India, we hope that our endeavour to obtain mining licenses there will be a stepping stone towards the larger objective of contributing to the much-needed economic growth of the country. This will pave the way for more such collaborative efforts in the future by Indian companies for obtaining raw material assets in other countries.”

“If we become successful for this bid, it will set the stage for large cooperative efforts between the public and private sector steel companies in times to come in other sectors as well, such as coal.” All these developments go on to convey that other areas beyond coal too needs to be investigated.

Manoj Jayaswal with Hon’ble Vice President of India, Shri Hamid Ansari

RNI News Network