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‘Missing’ Madhu Koda surfaces
Published on 13 Nov. 2009 10:18 PM IST
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Former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, who is at the centre of a Rs.2,500 crore money laundering scam, surfaced at his home town Chaibasa hours after Income Tax officials said he had “disappeared” from his home in the state capital Friday. Koda, without informing the officials, went by road to Chaibasa, 130 km from Ranchi, to meet his father Rasik Koda, who is said to be ill. Ujjwal Chaudhary, IT department director (investigation), told IANS that Koda had told probe officials he wanted to rest and asked them to come in the afternoon. However, when they went to quiz him at the appointed time in the afternoon, Koda was not at home, he added. Koda, who was given a warm welcome by his supporters and participated in a public meeting in Chaibasa, said he was being framed in the case. According to sources, Koda has written a letter to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seeking a reprieve in the case against him till assembly elections in the state are over. The five-phase assembly poll begins Nov 25. Counting will take place Dec 23. Meanwhile, the houses of Koda’s close associates Vinod Sinha and Sanjay Chaduhary in Jamshedpur and Chaibasa were raided by police to arrest them. The IT department Wednesday issued the arrest warrants against both, after they failed to appear before it for questioning. Further, a former Jharkhand bureaucrat has claimed that in 2007 then chief minister Madhu Koda had pressurised him to push files recommending iron ore mine contracts to close associate Vinod Sinha’s company. “When you work in a system, instructions are passed to officers. Even I was instructed by Madhu Koda on several occasions to push mine related files,” Jay Shankar Tewary, then mines and geology secretary, told IANS over phone from Patna. Tewary held the post from January 2007 to July 2008, when he retired. He now lives in Patna, the Bihar capital. “I know Vinod Sinha. He used to put pressure through Koda,” Tewary said. The Income Tax (IT) department has issued arrest warrants against Sinha and Sanjay Chaudhary - both close associates of Koda - and all three are accused of the Rs.2,500 crore money laundering scam in Jharkhand. Tewary said in late 2007, “Koda had cleared a file recommending iron ore mine contracts to Core Steel company”, which it turned out was floated by Sinha. The file, however, never went through. “We held up the file after we came to know that it was Vinod Sinha’s company,” claimed Tewary. Sources in the mines department, however, say Core Steel finally withdrew its file. The IT department, however, is not too happy with Tewary speaking to the media. Ujjwal Chaudhary, director, IT, Investigations, said. “Tewary should have approached the IT department and recorded his statement instead of going to the media.” The IT department says it will interrogate bureaucrats regarding mine deals. “We will certainly interrogate and record the statements of bureaucrats in mine deals,” he said. Tewary, it appears, has a lot to say. “During my tenure as mines and geology secretary, we recommended mine allocation to national and international steel players. The small steel players tried to influence us by putting pressure through Koda,” said Tewary. “To cope with the small players, I recommended to the state government that iron ore mines should be allocated to small players through the Jharkhand State Mineral Development Corporation (JSMDC) and National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC),” Tewary recalled. “My recommendations were turned down by the state government,” he added. Tewary even spoke of Koda wanting contracts for Chiriya Mines, which have the world’s best quality iron ore deposits, to go to private players. “The state government had stated that SAIL should keep one-third for its requirement and the rest should be awarded to the state government for private players’ use,” said Tewary. It was also reported that 40 mine-related files were disposed of in one hour during Koda’s tenure. “It was not an hour, rather a day during which the applications of interested parties were disposed of. Around 40 parties had appeared and their applications were disposed of,” said Tewary. He said this was done on the day he joined as mines and geology secretary - the very day when he left for the 2007 Punjab assembly elections as an observer. “The Election Commission takes your services for a fixed tenure and I was coming and going back to Punjab in February 2007.” According to Tewary, during his predecessor S.K. Sathapathy’s tenure as mines and geology secretary, applications were invited for a mine from interested parties. Around 60 parties applied for iron ore mines and Sathapathy called them for a presentation. Then Sathapathy, who had the image of an honest officer, was transferred and B.K. Tripathy, another senior IAS officer, was named for the post. But Tripathy refused to join and it was then that Tewary joined as secretary in the department. Koda was mines and geology minister between March 2005 and September 2006 when Arjun Munda was the chief minister. Even when he was chief minister between September 2006 and August 2008, Koda kept the portfolio with himself. IT commissioner Ajay Kumar has been camping in Ranch since Nov 7 to scrutinize mine deals during Koda’s rule.

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