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CBI summons former coal secretary Parakh

New Delhi, Apr 22 (PTI): The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday summoned former Union coal secretary P C Parakh for questioning on April 25 in connection with a case of alleged abuse of official position in granting a coal block in Odisha to Hindalco, a company of the Aditya Birla Group.

Parakh, 69, who has been critical of the CBI and its director Ranjit Sinha for registering a case against him, has now been asked to appear before the agency on Friday.

He is expected to be asked about what led to decision of the screening committee being changed.

The screening Committee had allotted the Talabira-II coal block to public sector undertaking Neyveli Lignite Ltd but Parakh changed the decision after he had received a request sent by Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla from the Prime Minister's Office for reconsideration of the decision.

Last year, the CBI had registered a case against Parakh, Birla and other unnamed officials of Hindalco and the coal ministry.

The agency alleged that during 2005, these persons entered into a criminal conspiracy and the then public servant (Parakh) abused his position and showed undue favour to the Odisha-based industry in allocation of Talabira II and Talabira III coal blocks along with the PSU.

According to the FIR, Neyveli Lignite Ltd was to be given Talabira II block but Parakh allegedly favoured Hindalco and allowed it to share the block with Neyveli leading to notional loss to the exchequer.

Parakh, in his book released last week, gives a clean chit to the PMO as well as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and says no pressure had been applied on him. He says in his book that the decision was taken for the better interest of the nation.

He had denied any quid pro quo as alleged by the CBI in its FIR about his meeting with Birla.