The Central Bureau of Investigation has seized Rs.1 crore from the Haryana premises of a scientist with the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests who was arrested along with a middleman on Wednesday for allegedly accepting a bribe. Neeraj Kumar Khatri was arrested for accepting the bribe for securing environmental clearance for a limestone mining project of a private firm in Odisha. The accused scientist owns four properties.
Khatri earlier worked with the Environment Ministry, on contract, and was later confirmed.
Acting on a tip-off, the CBI laid a trap near a hotel in Mehrauli and arrested him along with alleged middleman Chinmaya Srichandan, of Bhubaneswar-based S.S. Environics Pvt. Limited consultancy firm, when he was allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs.7 lakh on Wednesday night.
According to the CBI, the money was being paid to the scientist on behalf of Chariot Steel & Power Pvt. Limited, besides others, for securing environmental clearance for a limestone mining project in Sundergarh in Odisha.
An email and several phone calls made by The Hindu to the company’s Odisha numbers did not elicit any response.
“The matter was scheduled for consideration for clearance by the reconstituted Expert Appraisal Committee (Non-Coal Mining) on Thursday and was enlisted as the first case,” said a CBI official, adding that Mr. Khatri was not a part of the committee.
Based on the findings, the agency registered a graft case against the scientist, Srichandan and his father Achutananda Srichandan, who works as a consultant along with his son.