In a shocking development, suspect of a multi-level scam on a massive scale in the Assam forest department, where probabilities of crores of rupees could have been siphoned off from the fund created by the Supreme Court of India for compensatory afforestation, sources said.
The fund is meant for undertaking extensive afforestation to compensate for the loss of forest land due to developmental activities such as roads, railways, mining, oil-wells etc.
To manage the fund as per norms, a Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) was created in every state in 2004 by the Ministry of Environment & Forests.
The court’s order also clarified that the capital accumulated in the camp in the name of deforestation cannot be transferred to any other state government or their departments, or to do any other work unless deemed necessary.
Assam’s share in the CAMPA fund amounts to more than a thousand crores, Rs.560 crore was released to the Assam CAMPA this year in addition to the amounts earlier released. Reportedly, Rs.163.5 crores were earlier booked as expenditure against the afforestation works carried out by the Assam State CAMPA.
However, in practice, it has reportedly found that crores of rupees of this fund in Assam have been misused in the name of developing infrastructure, constructing nurseries, and carrying activities of afforestation.
Furthermore, there have been serious allegations of misappropriation of large sums of money by the present PCCF & HoFF of the Assam Forest Department Arvind Madhav Singh, who was earlier the CEO of Assam State CAMPA.
Meanwhile, the present CEO of the Assam State CAMPA, Dr. Satyendra Singh, is an alleged accomplice who functions under A.M. Singh’s instructions.
The alleged channels for money-laundering operate through three companies, GICIA India Private Limited, Sara Abode, and Salt For Sugar Film Productions, all of whom have a common point of contact with one Sachin Raj Jain. Sachin Raj Jain and Arvind Madhav Singh’s daughter Avantika Singh is allegedly partners in the film production house. Jain reportedly has been involved in all the business transactions of the three companies.
In fact, the suspicions of misuse of funds led a Member of Parliament to pose a question in Lok Sabha by hobnobbing of senior Forest Department officials with GICIA India Private Limited, and as to why the company was being allotted evaluation of CAMPA works on a monopoly basis. In response, the MoEF&CC declined any kind of involvement with GICIA India Private Limited and cast away the said company.
The allegations have now created a dire need to investigate all the contracts in the Assam Forest Department awarded to GICIA India Private Limited, and all the evaluation works of the CAMPA plantations carried out by the firm in Assam and interrogate all prime suspects involved.