The CBI on Tuesday carried out searches at 11 locations in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh after filing a fresh FIR in connection with a sand mining scam against 12 people, including two senior IAS officers serving as secretaries in the UP government, officials said.
The FIR relates to alleged irregularities in renewal of sand mining leases in Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur district during the Samajwadi Party rule in the state.
In 2012, the state government under Akhilesh Yadav had floated a policy of e-tendering in the allocation and renewal of sand mining leases. The order dated May 31, 2012, also cancelled all its prior orders pertaining to the grant and renewal of sand mining leases under the UP Minor Minerals Concession Rules, 1963.
In a number of districts, officials allegedly colluded with contractors to renew and issue the lease for digging out sand from riverbed in violation of the state government's policy of allowing such process only through e-tendering, sources said.
IAS officers Ajay Kumar Singh and Pawan Kumar, who figure among the 12 accused in the FIR, had allegedly allowed the renewals of leases in violation of the e-tendering policy during their tenure as district magistrates of Saharanpur, officials alleged.
"It was alleged that during the period 2005-15, thirteen leases relating to sand mining in Saharanpur were allotted or granted to accused lease holders. It was further alleged that the leases were renewed in 2012 and 2015 subsequently by then district magistrates which were in violation of government orders relating to allotting the lease deeds through e-tendering process," a CBI spokesperson said in a statement.
Singh, a 1998-batch IAS, was posted as Saharanpur district magistrate between March 28, 2012 and February 12, 2014. He is now Secretary, Khadi and Village Industries Board.
Kumar, a 2008-batch IAS officer, was posted in the district between July 20, 2015 and August 6, 2016 and now holds the post of special secretary in the housing and urban planning department of the state government.
Officials said Mohammed Wajid, the son for former BSP MLC Haji Iqbal of Saharanpur, is one of the beneficiaries who is named as an accused in the FIR. The other accused named in the FIR include Mehmood Ali, Dilshad, Mohammed lnam, Late Mehboob Alam, Naseem Ahmad, Amit Jain, Vikas Agarwal, Mukesh Jain and Puneet Jain.
After filing the FIR, the agency carried out searches at 11 locations in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, including the residences of Singh and Kumar, they said, adding the probe agency is claimed to have recovered Rs 15 lakh from the residence of Singh besides documents of two properties.
The CBI was directed by the Allahabad High Court on July 28, 2016, to probe illegal mining in various districts of the Uttar Pradesh, following which the agency started a preliminary enquiry to probe illegal sand mining cases in six districts.
In one of the cases related to allocation and renewal of the mining lease in Hamirpur district, the Chief Minister's Office under former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is also under scanner, officials said.
The agency is probing illegal mining between 2012 and 2016.
The Supreme Court on August 8, 2016, also asked the CBI to probe the companies mentioned in a report furnished by the Enforcement Directorate. It is alleged that some of companies were using the sand mining as a front to launder black money.
The present case has been filed on the directives of the Supreme Court on August 8, 2016 and the High Court on July 28, 2016.