The CBI on Saturday registered a corruption case against former Union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan and raided her premises in Chennai in connection with clearance given during her tenure for diversion of forest land for mining in alleged violation of laws.
The CBI alleged that Natarajan, as the environment minister during UPA rule+ , abused her official position while giving clearances to Electosteel Casting Limited, a private company in Jharkhand, in violation of the existing mining laws, environment laws and directions of the Supreme Court.
“Jayanthi Natarajan 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,” the CBI FIR said.
The central anti-corruption probe agency had registered five Preliminary Enquiries (PEs) in 2015 to probe alleged irregularities committed by Natarajan and others while giving clearances to several projects.
After the anomalies became public, Natarajan was removed as the environment minister by the Congress.
She had written an explosive letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi alleging that it was on Rahul Gandhi’s directives that she had red-flagged big-ticket projects in the environment ministry.
The Congress even went on to say that the timing and content of Natarajan’s letter indicated that she was under pressure from corporate houses linked to BJP to write against Rahul.
The CBI sources said that the former director of Electosteel, Umang Kejriwal, has also been named in its FIR.
Sources added that Natarajan would be called for questioning very soon.
The CBI had registered two PEs in October 2014 against unknown environment ministry officials, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd and JSW Steel.
The agency later registered another PE to probe clearances to Rungta Mines in Ghatkuri Reserve Forest of Jharkhand and two more enquiries. Some of Jayanthi Natarajan’s decisions were contradicted by her Cabinet colleague Jairam Ramesh.
CBI sources said they have Ramesh’s letter to Natarajan and it is a part of evidence.