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CBI sleuths raid Jayanthi Natarajan's house

| | Chennai | in Sunday Pioneer

Sleuths of the Central Bureau of Investigation on Saturday raided the residence of Jayanthi Natarajan, former union minister for environment and forest in the Manmohan Singh cabinet. The premier investigating agency also registered a case against Natarajan and others including Umang Kejriwal, the then managing director of Electrosteel Castings Ltd and the company under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act in connection with  irregularities in the diversion of forest land for mining of iron and manganese ores in Singhbhum district of Jharkhand.

The CBI report states that there has been violation of Forest Conservation Act of 2012 in awarding about 56 hectares of forest land for non-forestry use during the tenure of Natarajan as minister for environment and forests.

“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," said the First Information report filed by the CBI. It further states that the approval had been accorded without adhering to the advice of Director General Forests and directions of Supreme Court in this regard.


The application for the diversion of the land was earlier rejected by the then minister Jayaram Ramesh. The incident dates back to 2005 when officials of Jharkhand Government had recommended to the union environment ministry the leasing of 192.5 hectare land in the State’s Sarand Forest to ECL.

Though the then minister Ramesh rejected the recommendation made by the Jharkhand Government, the proposal was approved in 2012 during the tenure of Jayanthi Natarajan who succeeded  Jayaram Ramesh.

Natarajan had quit the Congress in January 2015 citing a vilification campaign unleashed against her by certain senior leaders of the party. While announcing her resignation from the party, Natarajan had disclosed that she was forced and pressurised by the national leadership of the party to unleash a vilification campaign against Narendra Modi, the then Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP much against her wish.

 She had also directly attacked Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his “interference in the decision making process” during the UPA II. Jayanthi Natarajan, the one-time glamourous face of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee and the Tamil Manila Congress has been keeping away from active politics. A protégé of former union finance minister P Chidambaram, Jayanthi Natarajan is the granddaughter of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Bhaktavalsalam.




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