NEW DELHI: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has told CBI that he had "many other issues to worry" being at the helm of the government and it was practically not possible for him to know and recollect every guideline on coal block allocation.
On the contrary, he contended that it was for the then Coal Secretary P C Parakh to highlight those guidelines if they had a bearing on the decisions to be taken as Minister of Coal, a portfolio he was holding during 2005 when the issue of allocation of coal block for HINDALCO was discussed. He maintained that he went by the advice of Parakh on the letter written by HINDALCO Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla for allocation of the coal block. Parakh was the "best qualified person to give me advice" on that letter, he added.
In his statement recorded in January before the CBI, which was probing the alleged scam in allotting the coal block to HINDALCO, he said he was not under pressure to accommodate the private firm in Odisha's Talabira-II coal block allocation. He has been summoned as accused by a special court in this regard.
Singh said there was "no undue haste" in arriving at a decision on the issue and the final decision on allocation of Talabira-II and III coal block was based on the examination and recommendation of Parakh which was endorsed by senior officials of PMO.
The Supreme Court had on April 1 stayed the trial court's order summoning Singh and others, including industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and ex-Coal Secretary P C Parakh, as accused in the case.