Chhattisgarh: Suspended bureaucrat Ranu Sahu, officer get EOW custody in alleged coal levy scam

Raipur, May 23 (PTI) A court in Chhattisgarh capital Raipur on Thursday remanded suspended IAS officer Ranu Sahu and former deputy secretary in chief minister’s office (CMO) Soumya Chaurasia in a four-day custody of the state’s Anti Corruption Bureau/Economic Offences Wing in a case linked to the alleged coal levy scam.

The two were arrested in the past by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the money-laundering linked alleged coal levy scam unearthed during the previous Congress government in the state.

While Sahu, a Chhattisgarh-cadre IAS officer of the 2010 batch, was arrested by the ED in July last year, Chaurasia, the then deputy secretary at chief minister’s office was held in December 2022. Since then the two were in jail.

Sahu and Chaurasia were arrested by the ACB/EOW on Thursday and produced in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge (IV) Atul Kumar Shrivastava, the ACB/EOW’s lawyer Saurabh Pandey said.

The ACB/EOW had demanded her custody till June 5 but the court has granted it till May 27, Pandey said.

Early this year, the EOW had registered a case in the alleged coal levy scam based on the information shared by the ED, which has been probing the money laundering angle in it since the last two years, he said.

The ACB/EOW in order to collect more information and evidence in its case, arrested Sahu and Chaurasia and sought their custody for questioning, he said.

In the FIR lodged under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC, state’s ACB/EWO has named 35 persons, including former minister Amarjeet Bhagat, incumbent Congress MLA Devendra Yadav, former MLAs – U D Minj, Gulab Kamro, Chandradev Prasad Rai, Shishupal Sori and Brihaspat Singh, suspended IAS officers – Sameer Bishnoi and Ranu Sahu and Soumya Chaurasia as accused.

The FIR mentioned that an illegal levy of Rs 25 per tonne was being extorted for every tonne of coal transported in the state by a cartel involving senior bureaucrats, businessmen, politicians and middlemen.

As per the FIR, Suryakant Tiwari, a businessman, was the mastermind of the scam.

The ED had initiated money laundering investigation in the “Coal Levy Scam” in Chhattisgarh and conducted searches and has arrested 11 accused persons and provisionally attached proceeds of crime worth around Rs 222 crores, it said.

A syndicate comprising private individuals like Suryakant Tiwari and State government functionaries like Saumya Chaurasia, Sameer Vishnoi, state Mining Officers with the backing of some political executives, managed to make deliberate policy changes, it said.

“They started a network of extortion to collect Rs 25 per on every tonne of coal transported in Chhattisgarh. As per the hand diaries, cash amount to the tune of Rs. 540 crore was extorted by the coal cartel from July, 2020 to June, 2022,” the FIR stated.

The FIR further stated that the extorted amount was utilised as per the instructions of Suryakant Tiwari and Saumya Chaurasia.

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