New Delhi: An official of the environment and forests ministry was arrested while receiving a bribe of Rs.7 lakh for giving clearance to mining projects in Odisha, the CBI said today.
Neeraj Kumar, 45, a deputy director in the ministry, was arrested from south Delhi’s Mehrauli area Wednesday while taking the bribe from an agent named Chinmoya Sri Chandan, acting on behalf of seven companies in Odisha, said a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officer.
Chandan was also arrested. Both the accused were produced before a special CBI judge, which sent them to four days police custody.
“On a tip-off, Neeraj Kumar was arrested red-handed while taking the bribe in a car. During his interrogation and searches at his four different flats in Haryana – two in Gurgaon, one in Rohtak and one in Sonepat, Rs. 1 crore in cash was recovered,” said the officer.
Several documents related to movable and immovable properties were also recovered from the premises, added the officer. Raids were also carried out at his office here and the residence and office of the agent in Bhubaneswar, where several incriminating documents were seized.
According to the officer, Neeraj Kumar used to take bribes for arranging environmental clearances for mining projects. Chandan had approached him for seven mining projects in Odisha.
One of the projects was scheduled for clearance consideration by the Reconstituted Expert Appraisal Committee (Non Coal Mining) today.
“Neeraj Kumar was under surveillance for some time as he was suspected to be involved in such deals earlier also. In one of the conversations with the middleman, he claimed that he could get the work done from a joint secretary rank officer in the ministry. We will further probe the matter,” said the CBI officer.
Chandan, of SS Environics Pvt Ltd, was acting as a middleman for at least seven companies whose mining projects was coming before the screening committee.
The company is owned by him and his father N. Sri Chandan and the duo allegedly used to work as middleman for various companies seeking clearance for their project, the CBI official said.