Behind the blocks
The first signs of the coal allocation scam started emerging in 2005. Hansraj Ahir, four-time BJP MP from coal-rich Chandrapur district in Maharashtra, wrote to offices of the prime minister and finance minister questioning the basis on which coal blocks were allocated. On November 30, 2009, Madhu Koda was arrested for illegally allotting iron ore and coal mining contracts in Jharkhand when he was the chief minister. It is said Koda and his associates amassed over ` 4,000 crore by allocating coal blocks.
In March 2012, the Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) of India in its draft report accused the government of "inefficient" allocation of coal blocks between 1993 and 2010 and said the block allottees made windfall gains worth ` 10.7 lakh crore. Then, Ahir and 19 other MPs from Maharashtra, including current Union minister for environment, forest and climate change Prakash Javadekar, submitted a signed petition on coal block allocation in Parliament and to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). On May 31, 2012, the CVC ordered a CBI inquiry on the basis of the petition.
In August 2012, CAG revised the alleged gains of private parties to ` 1.86 lakh crore. That year on the basis of the CAG report, Common Cause, led by Prashant Bhushan, filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking cancellation of the allocation of coal blocks to private companies between 1993 and 2012 to uphold Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. These Articles pertain to two fundamental rights that guarantee equality and life and personal liberty to the citizens.
On April 23, 2013, a Parliament Standing Committee on coal said coal blocks were distributed between 1993 and 2008 in an unauthorised manner. It recommended cancellation of mines that have not started production. The CBI, on June 11, 2013, registered FIR against Naveen Jindal and Dasari Narayana Rao. On October 16 that year, it filed an FIR against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary P C Parakh.
On August 25, 2014, the CBI decided to close its case against Birla and Parakh.