CBI behind Jayanthi swipe at Rahul

CBI behind Jayanthi swipe at Rahul

Not-so-green nods: Agency probes projects she cleared as minister

CBI behind Jayanthi swipe at Rahul

A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into projects cleared by Jayanthi Natarajan during her stint as Union environment minister could have triggered her sudden decision to strike at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi

Several Congress leaders feel she is trying to buy peace with the Modi government. But Jayanthi has stoutly denied that this was the reason for her rebellion and attributed the timing to the tension building up within her since she was axed from the Manmohan Singh government in December 2013.

In response to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asking for a review of several infrastructure projects that were referred by her in the letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Jayanthi said the Centre was welcome to look at every single clearance she had given.

Her detractors say the CBI registered at least five Preliminary Enquiries (PEs) in connection with clearance to iron ore and other mining companies during her tenure as environment minister.

But Jayanthi had not been questioned on the allegations made out in the PEs and nothing has been found yet that points towards her. The CBI though have not ruled out making Jayanthi part of the investigation later.

The first PE was filed in October by the CBI against Jindal Power and Steel Limited and “unknown government officials” for irregularities in granting approval and permission for diversion of forest land for mining in Saranda forests in 2013.

The CBI filed the second PE against Jindal Steel Works Ltd and “unknown officials” of the Ministry of Environment and Forest for suspected irregularities in granting clearance for mining purpose in Ankua Reserve Forest in Jharkhand.

Three more PEs were registered subsequently. One included environmental clearance to an iron ore lease in Rungta Mines of Ghatkuri Reserve Forest, Jharkhand.

In all these PEs, the CBI went by the Justice M B Shah Commission report amid complaints that nearly 350 files were kept pending by Jayanthi’s aides.

Finally, when she was removed from the post, trade circles had blamed Jayanthi for holding up nearly 35 mega projects worth more than Rs 35,000 crore.

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