MAC: Mines and Communities

Former mining secretary to face CVC probe on irregularities in awarding contracts

Published by MAC on 2005-08-18

UK based Vedanta could come in for another pasting, after India's state intelligence unit urges investigation of the Nyamgiri mining agreement with Orissa's state mining company. (For further background see "Ravages Through India")

Former mining secretary to face CVC probe - Irregularities in awarding contracts

Nistula Hebbar / Business Standard New Delhi

August 18, 2005

The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has decided to petition the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to pursue investigations into mining contracts awarded by former mining secretary C D Arha, in the last three years.

These include investigations into who was responsible for the MoU between the government of Orissa and Vedanta Alumina, which was later struck down by the Supreme Court.

Till date, no one from the ministry of mines has been held responsible for the MoU which created controversy when it was signed and could not stand up to legal scrutiny.

According to top ranking sources within the personnel and grievances ministry, the CBI has written to minister of state for personnel that Arha's is a fit case for investigation.

An 'adverse' report has also been received by the Intelligence Bureau (IB). 'The IB report had been asked for after certain complaints had been made about the bureaucrat,' said a top source in the ministry.

The personnel ministry had in fact on an earlier occasion tried to initiate action against Arha, but the matter had been pushed to the backburner by the CVC.

"We have decided to write to the CVC again and ask them to reconsider this decision," said a source. In fact the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also given the go-ahead for the investigation.

'There are several charges against Arha, who retired in July, 2005. But mainly they are related to mining contracts awarded during the time that he was secretary in the ministry of mines,' said a source. 'We want the CVC to take a look at the evidence we have gathered and then take a decision,' said the source.

Arha had also got into trouble with mines minister Sis Ram Ola, who sought an explanation over the appointment of directors in NALCO and giving additional charge of other directorships to a few favourites without getting appointments cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Appointments.

"We were surprised when the CVC did not agree for the investigation, but we are prepared to write to them in the hope that our own preliminary investigations will convince the CVC this time," said a top source.

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