NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday questioned a senior official of Tata Steel executive on the Rs 3,400-4,000-croremining scam in Jharkhand. The scam that forced former chief minister, Madhu Koda, in Tihar Jail for the last three years, reportedly took place between 2006 and 2008.
The CBI is investigating allegations that huge iron ore and manganese rich areas were leased out in exchange for money. A statement issued on behalf of Tata Steel said: "Tata Steel neither sought nor received any undue 'benefits' from former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda. Tata Steel was not awarded any new mining licences nor were any existing licences renewed during Koda's tenure."
Agency reports quoting unnamed sources said the CBI has questioned Partha Sengupta, the company's vice president for raw materials on charges that Koda may have asked for a consideration in exchange for mining approvals in the iron ore Saranada forests. It had earlier surfaced in 2010 when leaked phone conversations between a corporate lobbyist suggested that Koda had allegedly asked for payoffs.
During his tenure as chief minister (September 2006 and August 2008) the state government also leased 11,100 acres to companies with seemingly no mineral experience On 30 October, 2007, the then Jharkhand government had recommended prospecting lease (PL) of iron ore block of 1,808 hectare area in Ankura sector of reserved Saranda forests of West Singhbhum District in favour of Tata Steel. But the decision was challenged and the tribunal at the Centre had turned down the recommendation stating that half of the area recommended by Koda without following a procedure of routing it through a respective committee.