Shreegireesh Jalihal

Shreegireesh reports and writes on issues of economy and governance. He particularly loves to use the Right to Information Act to find stories. A former TEDx licensee (2016-18), he graduated from Delhi's Indian Institute of Mass Communication with a diploma in English Journalism. Before joining the collective, he worked with Business Standard.

WRITER CREDITS

February 27, 2023

One company gamed coal auctions. CAG said many others likely colluded. Modi government internally admitted to flawed rules but did not Investigate

During the fresh auctions of coal blocks from the coal-scam era, Modi government allowed RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group’s shell companies to undercut competition while bidding for a coal block in West Bengal. Internally the government admitted to flawed auctions but it did not investigate CAG’s warning of possible collusion in auctions by 10 other private companies to corner large coal reserves and causing loss to the exchequer.

March 15, 2022

Ghost and surrogate advertisers flourish on Facebook, pour in millions to promote BJP

The Collective’s year-long investigation found that an ecosystem of proxy advertisers is flourishing on Facebook, bypassing election laws, breaking Facebook’s own rules and undercutting the political level-playing field. Surrogate advertisements worth more than 58 million rupees, most of which promoted BJP, denigrated opposition and seeded false narratives, got a whopping 1.3 billion views for a period of 22 months, almost equal to the advertisements officially placed by BJP. They helped double BJP’s visibility without the party having to take responsibility for the content or the expenditure related to their advertisements.

April 9, 2021

Govt Scrapped Vehicular Bulk Data Deal Over Privacy Issues. But a German Firm Was Already Involved.

The Indian firm that got vehicular data of the entire country as an exclusive low-cost bounty cut a separate deal that would allow a German firm access to the information. This agreement fell through over 'differences in vision' but the Indian firm had already shared samples of the data it got from the Indian government. It was only months after the Indian company informed the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways that data had been shared with a foreign entity which then refused to delete it, that the government decided to scrap data supply to the company over 'data leakage possibilities' and 'security issues'.

April 8, 2021

Quietly, Govt Sold Vehicular Bulk Data to Firm Without Price Discovery, Privacy Protection

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways sold off the vehicle registration database of the entire country to a small private company in a deal that flew completely under the public radar. The deal was rammed through without consulting the ministry's finance wing and by sidelining the National Informatics Centre. The pact was flagged by multiple officials over its complete lack of price discovery. Eventually, the deal was scrapped over privacy concerns but the firm still holds the data and has earned crores in revenue by selling tech solutions based on it.

EDITOR CREDITS

Finance

January 2024

After becoming PM, Modi secretly tried to cut states’ income massively

Niti Aayog CEO BVR Subrahmanyam reveals Modi held backdoor negotiations with the Finance Commission to cut tax funds allocated to states, and says gov't finances are so shady, they could be hit by a 'Hindenburg'.

Environment

November 2023

Patanjali’s shadow real-estate empire

Hidden in plain sight, the Patanjali business empire is functioning as a dubious real-estate agency buying and selling forested lands in the fragile Aravalli mountain range through a web of shell companies.

Governance

October 2023

Coal Reforms Undermined

The Collective’s investigation reveals the Union government gave away coal blocks to private companies based on its discretion, undermining the landmark 2014 Supreme court order and the coal reforms it had unveiled. The Centre also gave into lobbying by power companies to open up the densest forests for mining, defying environment ministry

Governance

August 2023

In Farmers’ Name

The Collective’s investigation illuminates the corporate influence on the agricultural policies of the Union government. It uncovers how an NRI with no agricultural expertise managed to capture Niti Aayog's attention and got himself, and the people he picked, to be part of the task force formed by Niti Aayog to find ways to double farmers’ income. The investigation thrust open the doors of the task force behind which Adani Group candidly advocated the removal of restrictions on corporate companies hoarding agricultural commodities, which become a law two years later and trigged farmers’ protest.

Governance

May 2023

#ModifiedRice Papers

The Collective's investigation uncovers the Union government's rush to supply fortified rice to 80 crore Indians, ignoring failed pilot projects and warnings from the finance ministry and the head of premier medical research body. NITI Aayog confidentially reported the that government bungled pilot projects meant to gather scientific evidence on fortified rice. The investigation further revealed that international organisations linked to a Dutch fortified rice premix producer influenced government policy, provided evidence, and influenced standards.

Governance

February 2023

CoalFiles: Govt grants unfair advantages to biz houses in coal deals

The investigation reveals that the government allowed private corporations to bypass the competitive process to corner large coal reserves. It allowed shell companies of a conglomerate to manipulate auctions, and granted an extraordinary favour to another.

Governance

February 2023

Revealed: Niti Aayog’s Role Behind Govt's Massive Cut in Food Subsidies for the Poor

The think tank pushed Modi gov't to cut food subsidies, curtail food security coverage and privatise PDS, documents reveal

Governance

December 2022

Company behind Bhopal gas tragedy used shell firms to continue biz with Indian gov’t companies

After the Bhopal gas tragedy, Union Carbide and its executives were declared absconders. Their properties were ordered to be attached. But, using a web of front companies it funnelled in goods and took out profits for more than a decade.

Legal

October 2022

New Madhya Pradesh law puts 12-year-old Muslim boy on trial for riot damage

Under the law, similar to the one in UP, the child if found guilty could be ordered to pay compensation to his neighbour. It will happen without a formal criminal investigation that requires a police investigation, a prosecution and a trial before a proper court that follows procedures and offers safeguards under IPC.

Governance

July 2022

Centre changed rules to extend tenure of two powerful commissions' chairpersons

A grammatical loophole in appointment rules helps Women and Child Development Ministry push through the amendments to increase the terms of chairpersons of the National Commission for Women and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights

Governance

June 2022

To discredit WHO’s Covid death estimates, the Union government used flawed data

The Union government used a flawed set of data to mask the gloomier death count calculated by the UN body, and ignored a robust number thrown up by another of its own survey. The data was so unreliable that 20 of the 36 states and Union territories saw more registered deaths than what the government claims died.

Governance

June 2022

Only 17 parties in Supreme Court’s sealed list of 105 got electoral bonds, BJP cornered 68% of money

Supreme Court has not heard the Electoral Bond case for more than 2 years after receiving data from parties in a sealed cover. That has let the belief spread that Electoral Bonds were encashed by 105 political parties and the BJP’s claim that bonds are an efficient way to allow “donation to any political party of donors’ choice”.

Governance

April 2022

Centre's Modified Auction Rules Allowed Millers To Corner Pulses Meant For Poor, Finds Government Agency

The Union government's auctions worth more than Rs 4,600 crore to provide pulses to the poor and armed forces were rigged to benefit a few big millers, shows the findings of the National Productivity Council, a government research body headed by Minister Piyush Goyal. The Council’s findings confirm The Collective’s previous exposé that the terms of auctions allowed the millers to rip the government off tonnes of pulses and sell them at a profit in the open market, and also supply poor-quality pulses.

Governance

December 2021

Modi Govt's Opaque Auction Rules Rip Off Govt Coffers, Help Millers Strike Rich

Auction method used to mill pulses under welfare schemes for poor and armed forces allowed millers to make unchecked profits for years, hammering the public exchequer and the quality of pulses supplied

Governance

August 2021

Gujarat's Real Covid Tragedy Revealed: Data Suggests At Least 2.8 Lakh Excess Deaths During Pandemic

Data from thousands of pages of death registers maintained by municipalities in Gujarat show an excess death count of 16,892 for just 6% of the state's population during the pandemic. When projected across the state, the figure zooms to a staggering 281,000.

Governance

August 2021

Flawed Reform: How Modi Govt's New Coal Auction Regime Robs Chhattisgarh of Rs 900 Crore a Year

Under its commercial coal mining auctions, the Modi govt has sold off at least two coal blocks for rates cheaper than their 2015 prices. As a result Chhattisgarh will end up losing Rs 900 crore every year and over Rs 24,000 crore over decades.

Environment

June 2021

How Niti Aayog Hand-Picked SC Rulings To Probe Judicial Activism

The Niti Aayog wants to review economic impacts of Supreme Court rulings on environmental-law violations. Its officials are supposedly not investigating ‘judicial activism’. Files we obtained under RTI show that is indeed what they are doing.

Governance

May 2021

Govt Records Expose Its Lies On 'Effective' Foreign Covid Aid Distribution

Two days after the Health Ministry said it has ensured 'effective' distribution of foreign Covid aid and lambasted media for reports on its haphazard handling of the donations, its own records belie the claims. Internal records show large consignments were either 'in transit' or yet to even be allocated -- some from as far back as April 30!

Governance

May 2021

How MEA's Inaction Forced Embassies To Seek Covid Assistance From Opposition

MEA made urgent late evening deployments to its Covid Cell as late as May 01. This was 24 hours after the Philippines Embassy sought help from Indian Youth Congress for delivery of oxygen cylinders. In response, the MEA launched a bitter Twitter dogfight against the opposition for supplying cylinders to the embassy.

Legal

April 2021

A Hack: Evidence Was Planted To Frame The Bhima Koregaon 16, Reveals Report

A new report by US-based Arsenal Consulting, a digital forensics agency, claims that 22 ‘incriminating’ filed were planted into activist Rona Wilson’s laptop. These files are among the primary evidence against Wilson and 15 others currently in jail.

Governance

April 2021

A Bulky Mess: How Indian Vehicular Data Was Sold Cheap

Through a secretive deal, the government sold off vehicular bulk data of the entire country to a private company in a deal that officials red-flagged over lack of price discovery. With this exclusive low-cost bounty, the firm developed an entire business model based on the data. It even cut a separate agreement with a German firm and sent samples of sensitive data it received from the government. All this happened five years before the government announced a dedicated policy to sell the same data to other buyers.

Legal

March 2021

Inside The Hindu IT Cell: The Men Who Went Online To Protect Gods

A network of self-proclaimed Hindu volunteers file legal complaints and unleash a toxic wave of trolling, harassment, threats and doxing against social media users who they believed make “anti-Hindu” remarks

Environment

March 2024

पॉवर लॉबी की पैरवी के बाद खनन के लिए खुला कोयला ब्लॉक अडानी समूह को मिला

मध्य प्रदेश के सबसे घने जंगलों में स्थित ब्लॉक में खनन पर लगे प्रतिबंध को हटाने के लिए पर्यावरण मंत्रालय और खनन विशेषज्ञों पर कोयला मंत्रालय ने डाला दबाव।

Environment

March 2024

A coal block, unlocked for mining after industry lobbying, awarded to Adani Group

Coal ministry over-rode environment ministry and its mining experts to do away with ban on mining the block nestled in the densest forests of Madhya Pradesh.

Governance

March 2024

मोदी सरकार ने कोयला नीलामी में भाग लेने से पश्चिम बंगाल को अवैध रूप से रोका, निजी कंपनी को हुआ फायदा

नीलामी में पश्चिम बंगाल सरकार की कंपनी की अनुपस्थिति से आरपी संजीव गोयनका समूह को 83 मिलियन टन का सरिसाटोली कोयला ब्लॉक हासिल करने में मदद मिली।

Governance

March 2024

Modi gov't illegally barred West Bengal from coal auction, benefiting a corporate

The state-owned company’s absence in auction helped RP Sanjiv Goenka Group collude to win 83-million-tonne Sarisatolli coal block.

Governance

February 2024

भाजपा नेता आरके सिंह और राजीव चन्द्रशेखर की चेतावनी के बावजूद, केंद्र सरकार ने की त्रुटिपूर्ण कोयला नीलामी

आंतरिक पत्राचार में दोनों सांसदों ने भविष्य में घोटालों की चेतावनी देते हुए नई कोयला व्यवस्था में खामियों को उजागर किया था। उनकी आशंका बाद में सही साबित हुई।

Governance

February 2024

Despite prescient warnings by BJP leader RK Singh and Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union gov’t went ahead with flawed coal auctions

In internal letters, the two parliamentarians had punched holes in the new coal regime, cautioning of scams in future. Their words were prophetic.

Finance

January 2024

प्रधानमंत्री मोदी ने राज्यों के फंड में बड़ी कटौती करने के लिए वित्त आयोग पर डाला दबाव

नीति आयोग के सीईओ बीवीआर सुब्रमण्यम ने खुलासा किया कि मोदी ने राज्यों को आवंटित कर निधि में कटौती के लिए वित्त आयोग के साथ अनौपचारिक बातचीत की, और कहा कि सरकार का वित्त इतना खराब है कि उन पर 'हिंडनबर्ग' जैसा आघात पड़ सकता है।

Environment

November 2023

हरियाणा सरकार ने रखा अरावली को संरक्षण से बाहर, पतंजलि ने चुपचाप किया विशाल वनभूमि का व्यापार

हरियाणा सरकार ने अरावली की वनभूमि के संरक्षण के कई कानूनी रास्ते बंद किए। इससे पतंजलि की शेल कंपनियों को इनकी खरीद-फरोख्त करके भारी मुनाफा कमाने का अवसर मिला।

Environment

November 2023

संदिग्ध शेल कंपनियों के ज़रिए पतंजलि ग्रुप ने फैलाया रियल-एस्टेट कारोबार

पतंजलि समूह ने संदिग्ध फर्जी कंपनियों का एक जाल बिछाया, जिसके ज़रिए पैसे का हेर-फेर करके अरावली में वनभूमि खरीद कर फिर उसे रियल एस्टेट के रूप में बेचा गया।

Environment

November 2023

As Haryana kept Aravallis unprotected, Patanjali quietly traded forestland

Haryana govt blocked multiple legal routes to protect Aravalli's forest lands. This allowed Patanjali's shell companies to earn super-profits by trading in them

Environment

November 2023

Patanjali Group spawned dubious shell companies for lucrative real estate business

Patanjali Group employed a web of dubious shell companies that funnelled money to buy Aravalli forestland and sell it as real estate.

Governance

October 2023

नीलामी विफल होने पर अपनी मर्जी से कंपनियों को कोयला ब्लॉक सौंप देती है सरकार

जब नीलामी विफल हो जाती है, तो केंद्र निर्णय लेता है कि अकेले बोली लगाने वालों को कोयला खदानें मिलनी चाहिए या नहीं। अब तक 12 निजी कंपनियों को फायदा हुआ है, जिसमें अडानी ग्रुप भी शामिल है

Governance

October 2023

Coal Reform Overturned: After Failed Auctions, Centre Hands Out Coal Blocks At Discretion

When auctions fail, the Centre decides if lone bidders should get the coal mines anyway. Twelve private companies have benefited so far, including the Adani Group

Governance

October 2023

अडानी का फायदा: बिजली उद्योग की पैरवी पर कोयला मंत्रालय ने दी घने जंगलों में खनन की अनुमति

कोयला मंत्रालय ने देश के घने जंगलों में खनन पर लगे प्रतिबंध को हटाने के लिए पर्यावरण मंत्रालय और अपने ही खनन विशेषज्ञों को किया दरकिनार।

Governance

October 2023

Advantage Adani: Power industry lobbies, coal ministry unlocks dense forests for mining

Coal ministry over-rode environment ministry and its mining experts to do away with ban on mining in the densest forests in the country

Governance

August 2023

अडानी ग्रुप की शिकायत के बाद सरकार ने कृषि क़ानून में बदलाव किए, कॉर्पोरेट को मिली जमाखोरी की इजाज़त

किसानों की आय के विषय पर पर बनी नीति आयोग की टास्क फोर्स के समक्ष, अडानी समूह ने कृषि संबंधी वस्तुओं की जमाखोरी करने वाले कॉरपोरेट्स पर लगे प्रतिबंध हटाने की वकालत की

Governance

August 2023

एक एनआरआई के दिमाग की उपज था कृषि के कॉर्पोरेटीकरण का विचार

नीति आयोग की टास्क फोर्स ने एक ऐसे भविष्य की योजना बनाई जिसमें किसान कॉर्पोरेट को कृषि भूमि पट्टे पर दें और उनके सहयोगी के तौर पर काम करें

Governance

August 2023

Adani Group complained against farm law. Gov’t diluted it to allow hoarding by corporates

Before a Niti Aayog task force on farmers’ income, the conglomerate advocated to remove restrictions on corporates hoarding agricultural commodities

Governance

August 2023

Ahead of farm laws, an NRI seeded idea to corporatise agriculture

Niti Aayog’s task force envisioned a future where farmers lease out farmland to corporations and work as cogs

Governance

May 2023

A Bonanza For Dutch Firm:  Modi’s Decision Forcing Half of India to Eat Fortified Rice

A bevy of international organisations were part of a government resource centre that chalked up policy on rice fortification. All of them have links to Dutch multinational, Royal DSM, which benefits from the assured market created by the government's decision

Governance

May 2023

Confidential NITI Aayog Report Reveals Centre Bungled Rice Fortification Pilot Projects

Government’s top think tank reviewed the pilot studies in seven districts across India only after the government had ordered 80 crore Indians to be fed fortified rice. It found that all of them were fundamentally flawed and had failed. The report was never made public.

Governance

May 2023

Modi gov't ignores internal red flags on health risks to force fortified rice on poor

Union government ignored pilot projects’ failure and internal warnings that it is 'premature' to universalise fortified rice without first studying its health impact, particularly on children.

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