Did not influence anyone to give coal block to Birla: Manmohan Singh

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New Delhi, Oct 2: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has told CBI that he did not try to "influence" anybody, nor was there "any undue haste" in awarding the Talabira-II coal block to HINDALCO which was initially refused.

He also told CBI, investigating the case, that he had neither promised, nor gave any assurance to industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla about allocation of the block in Odisha to his firm HINDALCO.

Manmohan Singh

Singh, who was holding the portfolio of the Coal Ministry in 2005, said he only forwarded the letters of Birla and Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik in this regard to the Ministry for careful examination.

"On being asked, I state that I do not recall having told anyone in PMO to issue reminders, other than the noting of my PS. It is a routine administrative matter. The PM does not go into these issues. Anyway, I had already stated that I did not try to influence anybody and that there was no undue haste in arriving at the decision," he said.

While Birla had written letters requesting the Government to "change the decision" of not considering HINDALCO for the coal block, Patnaik had requested a review of the decision.

Singh, who has been summoned as accused by a special CBI court in the case, in a statement to the agency has said that recommendation of the Ministry to accommodate HINDALCO was approved by him.

There was no "undue haste" in arriving at the decision to allocate the block to HINDALCO, he maintained. The Supreme Court had on April 1 stayed the trial court's order summoning Singh and others, including Birla and ex-Coal Secretary P C Parakh, as accused in the case.

PTI

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