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I-T, CBI keen to join ED probe: sources

Based on documents leaked by activists, agencies to look into Rs 4,700 cr irregularities

I-T, CBI keen to join ED probe: sources

Sand Mining

CHENNAI: Even as Enforcement Directorate (ED) unearthed Rs 4,730 crore irregularities in river sand mining in Tamil Nadu, after three months of investigation, other central agencies including Income Tax department and CBI are set to join the probe, sources said.

Furthering the probe by ED, which looks into any possible scam in the last one to two years, other central agencies are showing interest in the case, according to sources.

“Our Delhi headquarters has received some complaints from social activists over river sand mining and involvement of ministers and government officials. The detailed complaints have a number of documents attached. These agencies are looking into the proofs submitted. Once we get a go ahead from Delhi higher ups, we will get inputs from ED as well,” a source from one of the central agencies said. Income tax department is also very much keen on digging deeper as the irregularities involve huge cash flow. “The issue is over Rs 4,700 crore unaccounted cash. It looks like we need to collect a lot of tax from them,” sources in the I-T department noted.

The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) conducted simultaneous searches at 34 locations, including 8 sand mining yards, across 6 districts of TamilNadu. The residential and business premises of various persons, including S Ramachandran, K Rathinam, Karikalan and their accomplices. A number of officials from the Water Resources Department, Government of Tamil Nadu were also brought under the radar by the ED officials in connection with illegal sand mining and consequent offence of money laundering. The ED initiated an investigation on the basis of several FIRs registered in various parts of Tamil Nadu disclosing allegations about huge illegal mining of river sand and gravel quarries.

The FIRs included that of a murder case in Thoothukudi district where Murappanadu Village Administrative Officer Lourdhu Francis was murdered in his office in April this year. It was alleged that a huge quantity of river sand was illegally mined and private persons were allowed access to the stock yards to conduct the sale illegally.

They allegedly issued fake receipts with bogus QR Codes under the head and seal of the Tamil Nadu government and in the name of the Water Resources Department. According to the Enforcement Directorate, they had carried out a scientific investigation with experts from Indian Space Research Organisation and IIT-Kanpur. It revealed rampant illegal mining.

ED believes that a huge quantity of sand worth Rs 4,730 crores (official entry is shown for only Rs 37 crores) was sold by issuing fake bills or receipts containing counterfeit QR codes thereby causing a huge revenue loss to the Central and State Governments by way of loss of GST and Income Tax evasion.

VP Raghu
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