The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Coal India chairman suspended

New Delhi, June 5: Coal India (CIL) chairman N.K. Sharma was suspended today on charges of corruption and abuse of official position. Additional secretary (coal) Laxmi Chand will be taking over temporary charge at CIL, which is the country’s largest employer in the public sector.

The decision to suspend the top official of the Calcutta-based PSU was reportedly taken after Union coal minister Karia Munda apprised Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee about alleged scams perpetrated by Sharma in the purchase of coal.

Munda said today that Sharma had been suspended as he had violated norms and guidelines for sale and purchase of coal.

Sharma, however, denied the corruption charges against him and said he was being made a scapegoat. “I have not committed anything wrong,” Sharma said.

Reports from Calcutta indicated that Sharma was planning to move Calcutta High Court for a stay order on his suspension.

Ministry officials said the case would be transferred to the CBI for a thorough probe.

However, a CBI spokesperson said the case has yet to be sent to the specialised detective body. “We frame charges on the basis of any complaint received and probe them, but only after we are approached,” he said.

The main allegation against Sharma was that he had abused his official position. Sharma had allegedly favoured a certain party while opening a tender for a job. Sources claimed Sharma had not even opened the tender submitted by another PSU —Heavy Engineering Corporation — for the job. During departmental inquiry, it was found that HEC had actually submitted the lowest bid. Sharma has also been accused of fixing the coal sale price at Rs 60 per tonne — against a fixed rate of Rs 20 — and pocketing the difference along with other officials.

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