A special CBI court sentenced S Vaikundarajan, managing partner of VV Minerals from Chennai, to three years imprisonment, a subbulakshmi to three years and the then deputy director of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Neeraj Khatri, to five years Years imprisonment in a corruption case.
The court also fined £ 5 on Vaikundarajan, £ 2 on Subbulakshmi and £ 5 on Khatri. The company was fined £ 10 lakh. The three were convicted along with the company on February 1st, in the case registered by the CBI on March 1st, 2016.
The agency had accused that Khatri, then Deputy Director (Scientist-C) in the MoEF, had accepted £ 4.13 lakh in favor of VIT University (Vellore) at the instigation of Vaikundarajan on a bank draft of July 3, 2012. His son Sidharth had received admission to a BTech course (mechanical engineering) at the university, for which the amount was deposited.
Description of services
Instead of the bribe, according to the CBI, Khatri advocated a letter that the managing partner of VV Minerals would send to the MoEF secretary on October 15, 2012, along with a form and a pre-feasibility report to search for “service specifications” the environmental impact. It was a product-specific (mineral) 166 hectare SEZ project in the village of Tirunelveli in Thiruvambalapuram.
The application was submitted to the Ministry’s central register and assigned to Impact Assessment (IA) -III, for which confirmation was given. A copy of the confirmation was sent by the company to the IA-II department, where Khatri was posted. The CBI claimed that the application should have been processed by the IA-III department. Khatri approved the confirmation copy with a note: “To be considered urgently at the next meeting of the EAC (Expert Appraisal Committee) (November)” and marked this for the head of department. The agency said the enclosures to the letter were incomplete because they did not have Vaikundarajan’s signatures in all required places, while those accompanying the letter to the central register did have his signatures.
As it turned out, the company was granted Coastal Regulatory Zone Permit to operate in Tirunelveli between 2005 and 2006. Subbulakshmi was employed as a liaison officer to obtain environmental permits from government agencies outside of Tamil Nadu. In May 2012, at the company’s request, the Industry Department (MIE2) of the Chennai Secretariat recommended that the Ministry of Commerce issue “formal approval” for the establishment of the SEZ.