New Delhi: Former Coal Secretary P C Parakh today claimed that the multi-crore coal block allocation scam could have been avoided if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asserted in pushing reforms including open bidding of coal blocks.
"Yes, if the Prime Minister had used his authority behind the reforms proposal it (scam) could have (been avoided)," Parakh told reporters after release of his book Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other Truths.
Various Coal ministers including Shibu Soren and Dasari Narayana Rao besides MPs cutting across the political class scuttled reforms in the Coal ministry that could have prevented the coal scam despite full support of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in pushing reforms, Parakh said.
"These two ministers resolutely opposed my proposal to put coal blocks to open bidding. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister was not able to control his ministers in the proposal that I made in 2004. I saw in the Ministry how Chief Executives and Directors of PSEs are appointed," he told reporters here.
"Money is openly asked for appointment of directors and CEOs. I saw MPs becoming blackmailers and extortionists. They blackmailed officers, they blackmailed CEOs of government companies. I saw how ministers have reversed the decision of the Prime Minister, who had agreed to putting coal blocks in Internet-based auctions," he said after release of his book Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other Truths.
"We have created a situation were it is difficult for civil servants to work with honesty and dignity," he said.
68-year-old Parakh, who retired from the service in December 2005, said whatever forward movement was achieved by him during his stint as Coal Secretary was only when the Prime Minister was incharge of the ministry.
"When I was in Coal ministry, the Prime Minister gave me full support. Whatever changes had come in the Coal ministry it is because of Prime Minister. He also supported reforms in the Coal ministry. We were able to get a lot of work done because of proactive role of Manmohan Singh," he told reporters.
Asked whether the multicrore rupees coalgate could have been prevented if the reforms had been pushed through, Parakh said, "Yes, if the Prime Minister had used his authority, it (scam) could have (been avoided)."
Parakh, who has been accused in one of the FIRs by the CBI probing Colagate, said auction of coal blocks in open market and e-marketing of coal, as proposed, would have ensured that there was no scam.
"Fortunately for me, the Prime Minister again became Coal Minister and I could implement the e-marketing order."
Asked about the FIR against him in connection with allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odhisa, Parakh said, "CBI said there was a conspiracy, I am not saying there was a conspiracy, but if CBI thought there was a conspiracy then conspiracy has to be between people who take decisions.