Monday, June 11, 2012

Ex-coal secretary PC Parakh fought to get his official letters out through RTI

PC Parakh as coal secretary (April, 2005 photo)
IN 2009, former coal secretary PC Parakh was fighting a battle at Central Information Commission to access his own communications as coal secretary with then cabinet secretary BK Chaturvedi for the period of 2004-05. He was initially denied those files when he had filed an RTI to the cabinet secretariat. Many believe Parakh’s letters to then cabinet secretary could form the basis of CAG’s key arguments in yet-to-be published report on doling out coal blocks without auction. Last Saturday, the intensity of the PMO’s hard-hitting letter to anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare got diluted as Parakh chose to appear for TV interviews on what’s now known as Coalgate. But who this PC Parakh? In late 1960s, he was a mining geologist working for...
National Mining Development Corporation and Hindustan Mining Corporation. A product from IIT-Roorkee, then an University, Parakh decided to plunge into civil services and got selected as IAS in 1969. He was allotted the Andhra Pradesh cadre.
In his home cadre, Parakh had a long tenure in industry ministry and was credited with playing a key role in bringing in investments. Former Andhra chief ministers had engaged him in conducting road shows and investment campaigns in USA, UK and South Asian countries. He was also instrumental in restructuring state public sector companies under a British government-funded DFID programme. He joined as Union coal secretary in March 2004, just two months before UPA-I came to power. He had remained in that position till December, 2005.
In TV shows, Parakh was not directly criticizing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who incidentally held the coal portfolio for a few years, but said PM could have put his foot down in getting coal blocks auctioned. He also said he did not rule out corrupt practices while distributing coal blocks without any auction. But unlike Team Anna, Parakh has so far chosen not to drag Prime Minister’s involvement into the episode. After a section of media leaked a yet-to-be tabled CAG report, the PMO has been arguing that the decision on not auctioning coal block was taken keeping in views of acute power shortage and lack of coal to sustain power production.

PMO’s letter to Anna
PMO’s June 9 letter to Anna Hazare has a line that attempts to reassure civil servants and end policy paralysis. The letter was signed by minister of state in PMO V Narayanswami. It says: “The Government is also determined to ensure that baseless and uninformed allegations made against public servants are not allowed to create fear that can lead to paralysis in decision-making and slow down growth and development.”

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