Officer transfered for tampering documents in hydel project clearance
A senior Indian Forest Service (IFoS) officer has been sent back home on charges that he manipulated documents to give forest clearance to a hydel project in Himachal Pradesh. Chetan Chauhan reports.delhi Updated: Sep 21, 2011 20:39 IST
A senior Indian Forest Service (IFoS) officer has been sent back home on charges that he manipulated documents to give forest clearance to a hydel project in Himachal Pradesh.
The officer has been repatriated to his home cadre, Himachal Pradesh, on environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan’s orders after he photocopied her note and used to it approve a totally unrelated hydel project.
An inquiry has been ordered against the official of the rank of assistant inspector general of forests. HT has withheld his name as vigilance inquiry against is yet to commence and efforts to contact him failed.
Indian Forest Service (IFoS) is an all India service like Indian Administrative Service (IAS) mandated to administer forests and ecology.
The minister in first week of September received a letter from Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal regarding relaxation of conditions imposed on two hydro-projects approved by former Environment minister Jairam Ramesh.
Ramesh had approved two projects of the five projects in Ravi river basin in Chamba district of the state with the condition that no work will start till the river basin study is completed and its recommendations are complied with. The other three projects were kept pending till the study was completed.
Dhumal requested Natarajan to relax the condition saying that the locals were facing water and power problem and the power projects were urgently required for development of the area.
The minister prepared a small hand written note regarding already approved two projects and marked it with Dhumal’s letter to the official.
As per the ministry’s preliminary inquiry, the official called for the file and asked his subordinate officials to get photocopies of the minister’s note and Dhumal’s letter done.
The official allegedly attached the photocopies in the file of an unapproved hydro project in Ravi river basin and then wrote that the competent authority had approved the project. The approval file was prepared on September 9 and an approval letter was issued to the project proponent on September 12, according to ministry officials.
Sources said Natarajan learnt about the development late last week and summoned the file. After finding the tampering she sought an explanation from the official, who in presence of senior ministry officials agreed to have directed officials to issue the approval letter.
Although the minister wanted to suspend him she relented for his immediate transfer to the parent cadre, Himachal Pradesh, on insistence of the senior ministry officials.
Natarajan, when contacted, refused to comment on the issue.