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Manmohan approved coal block for KSSPL: Ex-coal secretary 

New Delhi, Aug 31 (IANS) Former coal secretary H.C. Gupta on Monday told a special court that then prime minister Manmohan Singh gave the “final approval” for allocation of a coal block to Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL). The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) countered his claim and told Special Judge Bharat Parashar that Manmohan Singh was “kept in the dark” and alleged that it was Gupta who had “misled” officials of the Prime Minister’s Office. Gupta’s defence lawyer B.S. Mathur told the court that he had “no dominion” over the natural resource, and Manmohan Singh, who was holding the coal portfolio at that time, had given final approval for allocation of the coal block. The court was hearing arguments on filing of charges in a case related to alleged irregularities in the allocation of the Thesgora-B Rudrapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh to KSSPL. The court posted the matter for September 16, saying it will seek further clarifications, if required, from the CBI as well as the accused. Gupta and Madhya Pradesh-based company Kamal Sponge and its director Pavan Ahluwalia and senior official Amit Goyal are facing trial in the case. The court had earlier rejected the CBI’s closure report filed in the case. The CBI had lodged an FIR accusing the company and others of allegedly misrepresenting facts, including inflated net worth, to acquire coal blocks. After a probe, the CBI filed a closure report, saying it did not find sufficient evidence against the firm and its director to proceed with the case.

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