Two arrests by CBI rattle India’s coal market


Two arrests by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have stirred a hornet’s nest in the Indian coal market. The country’s premier investigation agency said it has arrested a representative of GHV India, a coal importer, in a bribery case involving top officials of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

The arrests were made on Friday, July 15, 2022, by the CBI. The two arrested were NHAI chief general manager Digvijay Mishra, and TP Singh, a top representative of GHV India in connection with an alleged bribery case of Rs 10 lakh. 

The CBI has alleged Singh had offered an amount of Rs 10 lakhs to Mishra, allegedly in connivance of private contractors seeking undue favours from the state-owned company. 

The CBI FIR names these two, besides Jahid Jaipura, managing director of GHV India and others.

Searches were conducted at the premises of the accused and others including at  Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chandigarh and Jaipur. Cash worth Rs 20 lakhs were recovered during searches from the premises of Mishra, the CBI said in a note seen by this reporter.

Besides GHV India, CBI also filed an FIR against Ahmedabad based New India Contractors & Developers, Gandhinagar-based MKC Infrastructure and some government officials who were not immediately named.

The CBI has alleged that the Chief General Manager (Tech) & Regional Officer(RO)-NHAI, Gandhinagar and others were indulging in illegal activities in connivance with certain representatives of private companies and allegedly favouring private companies in issuance of completion certificates, processing of bills, smooth progression of the awarded works and others.

It was further alleged that the company officials were in contact with the Regional Officer of NHAI, Gandhinagar for obtaining favours through illegal means specially in respect of their ongoing projects. 

The arrests assume significance because only last week, GHV emerged as the lowest bidder for Coal India’s two tenders for coal imported tenders of 3 million tonnes each. The value of these contracts are estimated at about Rs 9,000 crore. 

GHV India, for the record, partnered with Indonesian firm Bara Daya Energi that was black listed by Gujarat government’s power generation arm, Gujarat State Energy Corporation last year for failing to supply contracted quantities of coal.

This reporter has seen documents from GSEC blacklisting the Indonesian company.

India is witnessing severe coal shortage on account of ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia. Recently, the Power Ministry directed Coal India to import coal to meet the demands from state owned and private power projects. 

GHV India and its consortium partner Bara Daya emerged as the lowest bidder for two of the tenders to supply coal on East and West Coasts. Mumbai based GHV is engaged in EPC services for highways, railways and buildings among others.