CBI FIR against Jayanthi Natarajan in irregularities in environment clearance in Jharkhand

environment-minister-jayanthi-natarajanThe Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Saturday carried out searches on the premises of former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan in Chennai after registering an FIR against her in connection with alleged irregularities in environment clearance in Jharkhand during the previous UPA regime.

The CBI sleuths also conducted searches in Electro Steel’s Managing Director Umang Kejriwal’s Delhi, Sundergarh (Odisha), Kolkata and Ranchi based premises. The case is related to clearance given in 2012 for diversion of forest land in Saranda in Jharkhand’s Singhbhum district, to mining company Electrosteel Casting Limited (ECL), allegedly violating the Forest (Conservation Act).

Natarajan was Minister of State for Environment with Independent Charge between 2011 and 2013. The Sunday Express reported her decision first in its edition of June 2, 2013, which was followed by a series of reports on the clearances given to projects despite objections.

Natarajan will be called soon for questioning, CBI sources said. The FIR has also named Umang Kejriwal, then managing director of ECL, the company, and unnamed officials of the Jharkhand government. Natrajan has been accused under of criminal conspiracy Section 120B IPC, and the abuse of official position under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

 According to CBI, Natarajan, who left the Congress in 2015 after accusing Rahul Gandhi of forcing her hand in decisions related to environmental clearances, allowed the project, which her predecessor, Jairam Ramesh, had stopped.

“Jayanthi Natarajan, the then Minister of State for Environment and Forests, accorded the approval for diversion of 55.79 hectares of forest land for non-forestry use to ECL, though the same had been rejected by the earlier Minister of State… without any change in the circumstances after rejection,” says the CBI FIR.

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