The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered an offence against directors and promoters of M/s Shree Baidyanath Ayurved Bhavan Limited in a coal block allotment case. Baidyanath, a household name in Nagpur known for its brand of herbal remedies and Chyawanprash (tonic), was among the first beneficiaries of the mine allotment scheme.
It got a coal mine under the earlier mode of discretionary allotment. The first block it got was during the NDA regime, but the block was surrendered as the mine came under forest area. The company was later granted the Bhandak west block under the new government, which was however de-allocated in 2011 as production could not begin within the stipulated time.
A statement issued by CBI says the company’s directors and promoters have been booked for misrepresentation of facts and fraud, apart from other sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. According to the ministry of corporate affairs website, Baidyanath owner Suresh Sharma is among the eight directors of the company at present.
Offences have been registered against unknown officials of the ministry of coal too. According to the CBI release, Baidyanath was not engaged in the business of steel, cement and power when it applied for the allocation of a coal block. It also did not need a 60MW captive power plant at that time.
However, the ministry’s officers did not verify the details. The CBI alleges officials of the ministry of coal had connived with the company to allocate the valuable property to it. Baidyanath had demanded the coal block for setting up a steel unit as well as captive power plant for generating electricity required in the manufacturing process.
A couple of days after CBI registered an offence against the company earlier this month, a team conducted a search at its premises in the city. According to the agency, sleuths have seized certain incriminating documents during the move.
Baidyanath is among close to a dozen companies from Nagpur to have been booked in the coal block allocation case by CBI. Companies from Nagpur had the largest share in the coal block allocations. Sources say the chain of events started with a group of businessmen from the city with close links to bureaucrats in the ministry of coal securing mines. Taking a cue from them, bigger players followed and it finally culminated in a major scandal.