Chhattisgarh: New corruption cases registered against 3 officials including two arrested IAS officers

The Uncut

Raipur. The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) in Chhattisgarh has registered a case of corruption against Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers Ranu Sahu and Sameer Vishnoi and state service officer Saumya Chaurasia, officials said on Monday. The three officers are in jail in connection with the alleged coal levy scam that surfaced during the previous Congress government in the state.

An EOW official said here that the agency had registered three FIRs against Vishnoi, Sahu and Chaurasia on July 2 for allegedly acquiring assets disproportionate to their income. He said that a case has been registered against the officials under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. According to the FIR lodged against Sahu, a 2010 batch IAS officer, Sahu had allegedly purchased immovable properties in the name of himself and his relatives with an investment of about Rs 3.94 crore between 2015 and 2022.

The FIR states that Sahu received around Rs 92 lakh as salary from April 2011 to October 2022, but he allegedly acquired property illegally and invested around Rs 3.94 crore in immovable properties. Apart from this, Sahu also allegedly invested in insurance, shares and SIP, which should be investigated.

The FIR against Vishnoi, a 2009 batch IAS officer, states that he received around Rs 93 lakh as salary from September 2010 to September 2022, but he allegedly acquired movable/immovable assets worth more than Rs 5.12 crore during this period.

Similarly, the FIR lodged against Chaurasia, a 2008 batch State Administrative Service officer, states that Chaurasia received about Rs 85.50 lakh as salary and other allowances till October 2022, while he has allegedly acquired 29 immovable properties in the name of his family members and acquaintances, worth about Rs 9.22 crore. Sahu was arrested in July last year by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is investigating money laundering in the alleged coal levy scam.

Chaurasia, then Deputy Secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office, was arrested in December 2022, while Vishnoi was arrested by the ED in October 2022 in the coal levy case. All three have been in jail since then. The state’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB)/EOW had registered an FIR in January this year under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in connection with the coal levy case. 35 people have been made accused in this, including these three officers.

The case was registered on the basis of a report submitted by the ED. The FIR mentioned that a gang involving senior bureaucrats, businessmen, political leaders and middlemen was illegally collecting Rs 25 per tonne of coal transported in the state.

According to the FIR, businessman Suryakant Tiwari was the mastermind of the scam. The ED had initiated a money laundering probe into the “coal levy scam” in Chhattisgarh and conducted raids and arrested 11 people and seized assets worth about Rs 222 crore.

The FIR lodged states that a syndicate of private individuals like Suryakant Tiwari and state government officials like Saumya Chaurasia, Sameer Vishnoi and mining officials managed to get the policy changed deliberately with the support of some political officials. They started a network of extortion to collect Rs 25 on every tonne of coal transported to Chhattisgarh. According to the diaries, Rs 540 crore was extorted by the coal gang from July 2020 to June 2022.

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