Congress-linked businessmen under ED probe for multi-crore mining scam in Himachal Pradesh: Sources

New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax (I-T) authorities have uncovered that businessmen Gian Chand and Prabhat Chand are embroiled in a significant “financial scandals” within Himachal Pradesh. Documents obtained by the authorities reportedly implicate them in scams, with allegations that the state administration favoured them, resulting in substantial financial losses to the state treasury, ED sources said.

The duo is identified as close associates of the top state Congress leadership, sources added.

Following FIRs, complaints, and field verification reports, the ED launched a PMLA investigation and conducted a search on July 4, at Jai Maa Jawala Stone Crusher in Adhwani village, Jwalamukhi Tehsil, Kangra, along with properties linked to Gian Chand and others. Sources indicate that the searches yielded damning evidence pointing to extensive illegal mining activities in Himachal Pradesh.

According to sources, preliminary findings describe Gian Chand as a locally influential businessman and politically connected individual affiliated with the District Congress Committee. He is known to have close ties to Congress leaders and is identified as the beneficial owner of Jai Maa Jawala Stone Crusher, sources said. The ED’s investigation has highlighted significant discrepancies despite the stone crusher holding a valid license.

The revelations underscore serious allegations of financial irregularities and misuse of political influence, implicating individuals with ties to the ruling party in activities detrimental to the state’s interests.

The discrepancies are in the form of the following: Mining is being done on the river bed itself. Secondly, on ED’s insistence, local Mining officers were summoned, and they also did a survey and verified that rampant illegal mining was being done outside the licensed area, sources said. Thirdly, large-scale cash sales of mined material were being done. Fourth, illegally mined material from other areas is also being crushed and sold without valid transport permits and large daily cash dealings are done.

Fifth, rampant mining has destroyed the fragile ecosystem. Comparison with historical maps of NRSA will show that hundreds of crores worth of illegal mining has been done by this unit alone, sources said. Sixth, mining activity is being done during night time also.

The ED is learnt to have unearthed evidence of cash dealings, illegal cash deposits of more than Rs 8 crore in a single account, and utilisation of cash in land deals.

According to sources, Gian Chand and his family have also received multiple mid-level tenders of road construction etc from the state government. “These tenders are won in benami names. Illegally mined material is used in these tenders, but bogus bills are generated in the name of benami shell entities to siphon off illegal profits. Local officers are approving the works without any quality check and giving signed blank inspection reports to Gian Chand. Also, Gian Chand & Rajeev Singh (brother of Himachal CM) have acquired adjacent landed properties for illegal mining,” said sources.

Sources further said that lower-level government officials are actively conniving with the suspects in turning a blind eye to this rampant exploitation of the area, which is responsible for disturbing the ecological balance of the area. This eco-sensitive area is prone to landslides now because of the unscientific exploitation of the terrain.

In investigations being carried out by the I-T, liquor and civil contractors of Himachal Pradesh: Prabhat Chand, his son-in-law Saurabh Katoch and Ajay Kumar are handling huge cash and unaccounted transactions of top state Congress leaders and their relatives. A firm named APR Construction Company is suspected to be involved in major suppression of receipts, sources said.

According to sources, Ajay Kumar and Parbhat Kumar were identified as beneficiaries of a land acquisition deal involving the Himachal Road Transport Corporation. Allegations suggest that the transaction in the land acquisition may have been an attempt to defraud the government, with concerns raised about the acquisition being significantly overvalued, said sources.

“A One Time Settlement Scheme (OTS) is being implemented by the Kangra Central Co-operative Bank. The key person facilitating the cash settlement is Vicky Handa, a renowned jeweller from Hamirpur and was suspected to be involved in this alleged fraud OTS scheme,” said sources.



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