Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is likely to be questioned in a case of illegal mining being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
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According to sources, 14 mining licenses were approved by Yadav’s office after the High Court put a stop to the renewal and issue of such licenses except through e-tendering. The licenses were issued in the district of Hamirpur. Yadav held the mining portfolio in the period. 13 of the 14 licenses were issued in just one day.
In 2013, the High Court had approved the state government’s e-tendering process for issue of fresh mining licenses and renewal of older licenses. In July 2016, the HC had given orders for investigating cases of illegal tendering of such licenses in seven districts of the state. Since then, the CBI has been investigating the role of politicians and officials who are believed to have gained by circumventing the legal process for licensing.
After the HC order, till May 22, there were allegedly 22 licenses issued or renewed without following the e-tendering route.
On January 2, the CBI had registered a case against the erstwhile DM of Hamirpur B. Chandrakala (an IAS of the 2008 batch). Papers and files obtained during those raids had hinted at the role of the erstwhile mining minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati (who held the portflio before Yadav). Earlier this week, the CBI named Prajapati in an FIR. He is to be questioned on July 16 in connection with eight licenses. Prajapati is currently in jail for an unrelated case.
The present investigations are being tied in with the Enforcement Directorate’s files on the total wealth of Yadav before and after he became chief minister in 2012. Yadav was chief minister of the state from March 2012 to March 2017.
Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary denied having any information on the questioning. “There is a definite political intent behind such a case if there is any. There is no role of the party president in any such case,” he told THE WEEK.
Yadav had earlier said that he is ready to face any probe in the case. He had also accused the ruling BJP of showing its true colours by using the investigation agency to settle political scores.