The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday raided the business premises of JLD Yavatmal Energy, Abhijeet Group, JAS Infrastructure, AMR Iron and Steel and Solar Industries India Ltd and residents of their proprietors, as part of an investigation into irregularities in the award of coal blocks to private companies that has sparked a political crisis.
A team of around 20 CBI personnel swooped down on the office of JLD Yavatmal Energy at Trimurti Nagar, JAS Infrastructure at MIDC, Abhijeet Group at Ramdaspeth, AMR Iron and Steel at MIDC and Solar Industries India Ltd at Ramdaspeth this morning and raids were still under way.
According to available information, the team also raided the Zade layout office of the Solar Industries and residence of Satyanarayan Nuwal, the owner of the industries, at Ramdaspeth. The company which had taken 74% share from Nav Bharat Coalfield Ltd of Chhattisgarh was allotted Madanpur north block for a sponge iron plant.
While taking the coal block the Nav Bharat allegedly did not disclose that it did not have a sponge iron plant in the state. The company sold 74% stake to Nagpur-based Solar Industries India Ltd subsequently.
Among the four companies raided on Tuesday, two companies were linked to media baron and Congress Rajya Sabha member Vijay Darda.
It is said that his son, Devendra, too was a partner of JAS. The CBI has also filed FIR against Vijay Darda, his brother, Rajendra Darda and son, Devendra Darda.
BJP leader Kirit Somaiya, who raised the issue last month, alleged that the coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal was also hand-in-glove for allotting the block to the company. Darda was also one of the promoters of JLD Yavatmal Energy while Abhijeet Group owns by Manoj Jayaswal, a very close associate of Darda.
Who is Vijay Darda
Vijay Darda is chairman of Lokmat group of newspapers that publishes Lokmat (Marathi), Lokmat Samachar (Hindi) and Lokmat Times (English) from different cities in Maharashtra.
Lokmat is the largest circulated Marathi daily in the country with over a dozen editions. He served as the president of Indian Newspaper Society and president of south-Asian editors’ forum, formed by the editors of dailies in south Asia.
A staunch Congressman Darda (62) was first elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1998 as an independent after defeating the Congress nominee Ram Pradhan, a Sonia Gandhi’s hand-picked candidate. This is his third term in the Upper House of the Parliament.
His brother, Rajendra Darda, who was elected from Aurangabad assembly constituency, is the Maharashtra minister for education. Vijay Darda’s son Devendra is one of the partners of JAS Infrastructure.
Darda’s father, Jawaharlal Darda, who was from neighbouring Yavatmal district, was a freedom fighter and served as the state treasurer for the MPCC for years. He was minister for industries and energy in the state cabinet in 1980s.
Darda’s close proximity with Manoj Jayaswal was an eyesore for many. Jayaswal, who is reportedly a relative of union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, was allotted mines in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra and Dardas were his business partners.
Congress Rajya Sabha member was in the news in recent past when he described the Gujarat chief minister as a tiger and a national saint that embarrassed his party colleagues.