Probe ordered against Ex-CM for bungling worth 450 cr

BJP vice-president Shivraj Singh Chouhan. (PTI Photo)

The Kamal Nath government has ordered a probe against former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for alleged financial bungling worth Rs 450 crore in a massive plantation drive along the Narmada river in 2017.

State’s forest minister Umang Singhar has written to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) to initiate investigation against Chouhan along with ex-forest minister Gauri Shanker Shejwar and over half a dozen senior forest officials.

“Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who calls himself son of Narmada, has embezzled Rs 450 crore and I promise that whoever is found involved in the scam will not be spared,” the minister tweeted.

The minister alleged that the Chouhan government bought 6 crore saplings in the name of making a world record of plantation along the Narmada river. The saplings were bought at the rate of Rs 200 per sapling whereas its actual price was Rs 20 per unit.

Sighar claimed that he had verified the claims of plantation himself at Betul district and found that only 9000 pits were dug instead of 15,000, as was mentioned in official record.

The minister alleged in the letter to the investigating agency that misappropriation of public funds was done with the intention of benefiting some people, while trying to set up a Guinness World Record of planting over six crore trees in a single day.

In the file that has been submitted to the EOW, Singhar noted that six crore trees were not planted at the first place as the number of pits dug to plant the trees were far fewer than the claimed figures.

Singhar's recommendation to the EOW comes after an internal inquiry into the plantation was conducted, which allegedly found that six crore trees were never planted in the first place.

The inquiry conducted by the forest department found that the decision to create the Guinness World Record was taken by the then chief minister's office in 2017 in such a haste that government agencies, including the forest and horticulture departments, had no time to
procure saplings in such a huge numbers.

The inquiry also revealed that saplings were ordered from private agencies including many from Gujarat and a sapling worth Rs 20 was brought for more than Rs 200.

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