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Rs1,400 crore UP memorials scam: Two Mayawati ministers among 19 booked

Thursday, 2 January 2014 - 12:55pm IST | Place: Lucknow | Agency: DNA

The vigilance establishment of the UP Police on Wednesday filed an FIR naming two former BSP ministers and 17 officials in the Rs 1,400 crore memorials scam relating to the previous Mayawati regime on the basis of the Lokayukta’s recommendations. However, the action comes more than six months after the Lokayukta Justice (retd.) NK Mehrotra submitted his report to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

Official sources confirmed that the FIR had been registered at the Gomti Nagar police station here naming the two former ministers – Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Babu Singh Kushwaha – and 17 others who are among the 199 accused indicted in the scam. The 17 include and official of the Mining Department and 16 PWD engineers. A separate FIR would be lodged soon against the rest of the 180 accused, a senior vigilance official said.

The Lokayukta had indeed stunned all those following the scam by giving a clean chit to former Chief Minister Mayawati in his report submitted in May this year. Also, not a single IAS officer is among those indicted. The senior most official to be prosecuted is CP Singh, then MD of UP Rajkiya Nirman Nigam, the nodal agency which handled the bulk of the construction work of Mayawati’s “dream projects”. Singh is now an advisor to Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna.

The Lokayukta’s report had named Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Babu Singh Kushwaha as the kingpins in the bungling of memorials and parks built at a cost of over Rs 7,000 crore. The ministers and a large number of government officials, including several engineers, have been indicted for committing large scale financial irregularities, particularly in the purchase of expensive stone for the memorials.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in a report tabled in the UP Assembly in August 2011 had also pointed out bungling in the purchase of stone for the memorials and parks.

Kushwaha’s involvement in the scam was found to be essentially in the purchase and sale of pink stone and granite, in his capacity as minister for mines. He is currently lodged in jail for allegedly committing huge financial irregularities in the Rs 6,000-crore National Rural Health Mission scam exposed by the CBI.

According to the Lokayukta, “At least 34 per cent of the Rs 4,148 crore shown to have been spent on memorials in Lucknow alone was clearly siphoned off by those involved in the construction activity.”

Pointing out the different ways adopted by the ministers and officials to pilfer money, the Lokayukta said, “Sandstone was shown to be carted from mines in Mirzapur to Rajasthan for cutting and finishing when 29 machines were installed in Mirzapur itself. Therefore a lot of money was also pilfered in the name of transportation of stone.”

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