The CBI on Saturday, September 10 filed an FIR against 63-year-old former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan citing criminal conspiracy and abuse of official position.
The case is in connection with clearance given during her tenure for diversion of forest land for mining in alleged violation of laws.
According to the FIR registered by CBI (a copy of which is provided below), Natarajan, who was a minister of state under the Congress has been booked under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
As mentioned in the FIR the place of occurrence is Delhi and Jharkhand. It was in the previous Congress-led UPA2 regime, with Jayanthi Natarajan as environment minister when a controversial decision to permit mining in the forest land in Saranda was taken in 2012. The case pertains to clearance given for diversion of forest land in Saranda Forest, Singhbhum District in Jharkhand to mining company Electrosteel in alleged violation of Forest (Conservation Act) in 2012. Earlier this year, the environment ministry under Anil Dave shot down a Rs 50,000 crore proposal from ArcelorMittal for a mining project in the Saranda forest area citing environment reasons.
The agency has registered its FIR against Natarajan, Umang Kejriwal, the then managing director of Electrosteel Casting Limited, and the company besides other unidentified persons.
The permission was rejected by the Minister of State for Environment Jairam Ramesh but when Natarajan took the post, she allegedly cleared it.
“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,” the CBI FIR alleged.
As far as political affiliations go, the minister had a bitter fallout with the Congress in 2015 and had quit the party.
with PTI inputs