Vaikundarajan convicted for financing engineering college admission for officer working in Environment Ministry
South India’s sand mining king S Vaikundarajan, the owner of India’s biggest minerals exporting company is sentenced by Court for bribing a Union Environment Ministry officer. Vaikundarajan who played a decisive role in Tamil Nadu politics was involved in many allegations of illegal sand mining in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu coasts. But now he is convicted for financing the engineering college admission for an officer working in Environment Ministry. This is similar to America’s big Mafia leader Alphonse Gabriel Capone being caught for tax violations.
A Special CBI court in Delhi on Monday sentenced S Vaikundarajan, managing partner of Chennai-based V.V Minerals, to three years imprisonment, one Subbulakshmi to three years and the then Deputy Director with the Ministry of Environment, Neeraj Khatri, to five years’ imprisonment in a corruption case. The court also imposed a fine of Rs.5 lakhs on Vaikundarajan, Rs.2 lakhs on Subbulakshmi and Rs.5 lakhs on Khatri. The company has been fined Rs.10 lakhs. The three were convicted along with the company on February 1, in the case that was registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on March 1, 2016.
Though he was well connected to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, his sand mining business and allegations were untouched during the rival DMP party’s rule also.
The agency had accused that Khatri, as the then Deputy Director (Scientist-C) in the MoEF, accepted Rs.4.13 lakhs via a bank draft dated July 3, 2012, in favour of VIT University (a private university in Tamil Nadu) at the instance of Vaikundarajan. The Environment Ministry officer’s son Sidharth had taken admission in a BTech (mechanical engineering) course of the university, for which the amount was deposited.
The officer was dealing with the file of Vaikundarajan’s company V.V Mineral’s for getting clearance of mining-related issues in the 166-hectare special economic zone (SEZ) project in the Thiruvambalapuram village of Tirunelveli. The officer Neerja Khatri accepted bribes from the sand mining king to clear the files and trapped by accepting bribes for his son’s admission in VIT Engineering College, accused CBI. Another accused convicted along with Vaikundarajan is Subbulakshmi. She is a liaison officer of the mining company.
Vaikundarajan’s conviction is similar to the conviction of US mafia don Al Capone who was caught for tax evasion. Here the similarity is that the sand mining king was facing allegations of illegal sand mining for the past 40 years and caught for small-time bribery. Vaikundarajan started his small-time business of running a rice mill, which was his father’s business. Though he was well connected to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, his sand mining business and allegations were untouched during the rival DMK party’s rule also.
South Indian media and even national media also did not pursue reporting against him due to his money power. Former Economic Times reporter later wrote a report in Wire Website how Vaikundarajan landed at her Bureau in Chennai. The report details the clout of Vaikundarajan in Tamil Nadu politics, judiciary and media.
 How India’s Largest Beach Sand Mineral Exporter Got to Where He Is – Jan 30, 2017, The Wire
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