New Delhi: A multi-crore forest scam in Haryana, allegedly involving a state minister, a legislator and some bureaucrats, could be probed by the CBI as the investigative agency has found the charges "worthy" of an independent probe.
The CBI has conveyed its opinion to the Central Vigilance Commission in response to its query following a request by the Environment Ministry.
The Ministry had referred the matter to the CVC after in-house inquiry found merit in allegations levelled by whistle-blower Indian Forest Service officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi that there was corruption in the setting up of a herbal park on the private land of a legislator under pressure from a state Cabinet Minister.
Chaturvedi also alleged financial irregularities like siphoning of funds to the tune of crores of rupees in plantation at the park in 2007 and 2008.
"The issues raised by Sanjiv Chaturvedi were analyzed in CBI and were found to be worthy of an independent probe.... CBI is willing to take over investigation of this matter, provided an FIR pertaining to the offences is first registered with Haryana police and the state Government issues a notification...," said the CBI's letter to CVC, copy of which is available with PTI.
After Chaturvedi blew the whistle, he was frequently transferred and he complained of harassment to President Pratibha Patil, who referred it to the Cabinet Secretariat.
Acting on the directions of the Cabinet Secretariat, the Environment Ministry in 2010 constituted a two-member panel which confirmed the harassment of Chaturvedi through 12 transfers in five years, suspension and "fabricated charge sheet for exposing large-scale irregularities" in various projects in the state.
The panel consisting of Inspector General of Forests A K Srivastava, Assistant Inspector General Shally Ranjan had also recommended quashing of the chargesheet and referring the matter immediately to the CBI for the impartial investigation.
Accordingly, the chargesheet was quashed by the President on January 19.
The panel, which probed the case, had also indicted Haryana Chief Ministers Office, then forest minister, a legislator and some senior state government officers for the "harassment" of the Sanjiv Chaturvedi.
Haryana had rejected the findings of the enquiry committee and asked the Environment Ministry to have a fresh look at the case.
However, the Centre had rejected their demand.