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First ‘Coalgate’ Defendants Charged

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation has finally filed charges against five companies and 17 associated individuals and government officials allegedly involved in the ‘Coalgate’ scandal.

Maharashtra Congress MP Vijay Darda and his brother Rajendra Darda, the Education Minister for Maharashtra, were among those named.

The companies charged in the First Incident Reports are AMR Iron and Steel, Vini Iron and Steel Udyog, Nav Bharat Power, JLD Yavatmal Energy and JAS Infrastructure Capital.

Individuals indicted come predominantly from the Jayaswal, Darda and Prasad families who own the named companies. Investigations are still underway across ten cities. More individuals and government officials are expected to be implicated.

India’s national auditor released a report last month saying the government sold coal fields to private companies between 2004 and 2009 without competitive bidding. The auditor estimated that private companies made profits of more than $33 billion, money that could have been “accrued to the national exchequer,” the report said.

The auditor’s report absolved Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But the scandal has put enormous pressure on him and his ruling Congress-led government.

Parliament is at a standstill, with opposition members refusing to do any other business until the circumstances behind the coal field allocations are explained.


Melanie Lansakara is a researcher at ethiXbase.

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