Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren In Deep Trouble As BJP Exposes Mining Lease He Awarded To Himself

Jaideep Mazumdar

Feb 12, 2022, 05:18 PM | Updated 05:18 PM IST

Jharkhand CM Hemant Sorent (Pic Via Twitter)
Jharkhand CM Hemant Sorent (Pic Via Twitter)
  • Former Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das said that CM Hemant Soren misused his official position to get the departments he is in charge of to grant the mining lease and the environmental clearance for the mining.
  • Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has been caught out by the state BJP. According to documents presented by BJP national vice president and former chief minister Raghubar Das, Soren misused his office to get a mining lease on a government-owned stone quarry in the outskirts of Ranchi issued in his name.

    According to documents presented by Das to Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais on Friday (11 February) demanding Soren’s dismissal, the state CM got an in-principle approval for a stone quarrying lease on the government land from the state mines and geology department.

    This approval was followed by the mandatory environmental clearance from the state environment department. Soren, who is the national vice president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), holds charge of the mines and geology, and forest and environment departments.

    Das told Swarajya over phone from state capital Ranchi that Soren misused his official position to get the departments he is in charge of to grant the mining lease and the environmental clearance for the mining.

    “What he did is a serious violation of his position as Chief Minister and is a case of conflict of interest as defined by the union government for public representatives. His acts constitute a violation of sections 7 and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and section 169 of the Indian Penal Code,” said Das.

    “This is also a violation of section 9 of the Representation of People’s Act and Article 19 (A) of the Constitution. Hence, we have requested the Governor to dismiss him from office,” Das added.

    The former chief minister alleged that Soren had been trying to get this mining lease since 2008. “After coming to power, he got the geology and mines department to issue a letter of intent (for mining) in his name on 16 June 2021. On 10 July 2021, the Ranchi district mining authorities gave their approval for the lease site in Anagada mouza in the outskirts of the capital. In September that year, the state environment department gave its clearance for mining there,” said Das.

    Raghubar Das had, last month, also alleged involvement of Hemant Soren’s younger brother, Basant Soren, in another scam. Das presented documents to the media that purportedly showed that Basant was a partner in a mining company by the name of Grands Mining Company operating in the Santhal Parganas administrative division of the state.

    This company, alleged Das, had illegally exported stone chips to Bangladesh. The company had also not paid Rs 8 crore due to the state government. Basant Soren is the MLA from Dumka constituency.

    A petition has also been filed before the Jharkhand High Court seeking a CBI enquiry into the scam, cancellation of Soren’s membership of the state legislative Assembly for violating the Representation of People’s Act, and a directive to the Governor to grant sanction for the Chief Minister’s prosecution.

    JMM general secretary and spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharyya dismissed the allegations as “frivolous”. But he could not reply to the specific charges that Das had levelled against his successor (Hemant Soren). Instead, Bhattacharyya held out the threat of a witch-hunt against Das by stating that the government would carry out a comprehensive review of all decisions and actions taken by the Raghubar Das government. Any wrongdoing will be acted on, he warned.

    But despite such bravado, the fact remains that Hemant Soren is feeling cornered. “The government cannot dismiss the allegations as baseless as we have produced all documents as proof of the scam. That is why it is resorting to threats,” said a senior BJP leader.

    The BJP is planning to launch a massive agitation to highlight this, and many other scams, of the Hemant Soren government. “We will expose all these cases of corruption and misuse of power one by one and force Hemant Soren to resign,” said BJP leader and former chief minister Babulal Marandi.

    The Congress, a partner in the JMM-led ruling coalition, has so far maintained a studied silence over the issue that has triggered a political storm in the state. JMM leaders say that the Chief Minister is holding consultations with senior lawyers, including a Supreme Court lawyer who is also a Congress MP.

    But, say legal experts, Soren is on a very sticky wicket and the issue of a mining lease and environmental clearance granted to him by departments that he heads amounts to gross illegality and misuse of office.

    Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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