Close on the heels of Jayanthi Natarajan's explosive revelations on the functioning of the environment ministry of the UPA-II government and the pressures on her while handling issues related to green clearances, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday registered three fresh preliminary enquiries (PEs) relating to green clearances approved by her.
The CBI had, in October last year, registered two PEs against unknown officials of the environment ministry and with the fresh PEs registered yesterday, the number of such cases under probe has gone up to five.
While the CBI remained silent on the details of the fresh PEs, which were registered earlier this month, agency reports said the former environment minister may soon be called for clarifications on clearances she gave to companies during her tenure.
Reports quoting environment ministry sources said several officials have been examined in connection with the clearances granted during Natarajan's tenure, which has prompted the CBI to examine the minister as well.
The CBI has also examined officials of the respective state governments and gone through documents.
The agency wants to know from Natarajan the rationale of clearing some files while holding back clearances in some matters, say reports.
Meanwhile, Natarajan's predecessor in the environment ministry, Jairam Ramesh, had questioned clearances given by her to some companies.
Natarajan's letter to Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi and her revelations to the media seem to have factored in the investigations into her green clearances.
She spoke of sticking to the party line despite all criticisms against her and thereby her decisions getting overruled by the prime minister.
''My object in pointing out the above to you is to bring to your notice that, in several cases the party high command had very strong views regarding environmental violations. This was the reason that I repeatedly challenged my colleagues in cabinet, thus bringing down upon my own head the anger and wrath of the entire cabinet, and also the entire corporate world.
"Still, I soldiered on doing my duty. This is the reason why I am so stunned and shocked that in the end, I was removed as minister just 100 days before elections although I had committed no wrong doing, and none was pointed out to me; in fact the then Prime Minister praised my work, while accepting my resignation,'' reports quoted Natarajan as saying in her letter to Sonia Gandhi.
Despite the allegations and counter-allegations by the Congress leadership, the fact remains that three consecutive changes in the UPA-II's environment ministry - Jairam Ramesh to Jayanthi Natarajan and then to Veerappa Moily - were intended to facilitate faster environment clearances and not to ensure environment protection.