Dehradun : The newly elected Trivendra Singh Rawat government in Uttarkhand has claimed to have unearthed a "scam" running into hundreds of crores of rupees in the acquisition of land for a national highway. The state government has written to the Centre asking for a CBI probe while six senior officials have been suspended over their suspected role in the scam. "Irregularities worth Rs 240 crore have been detected in the acquisition of farmland for the purpose of the proposed NH-74 in Udham Singh Nagar districtbetween 2011-2016.
Farmland was shown as non-agricultural land to increase the compensation amount by at least 20 times to benefit chosen stakeholders and beneficiaries," chief minister Rawat told a press conference. Most of the land in question is located in Jaspur, Kashipur, Bajpur and Sitarganj areas of Udham Singh Nagar district, the chief minister said said. The volume of the money siphoned off was bound to rise as only 18 cases have been detected so far and many more are in the offing, he said. Terming it a "major scam", Rawat said he has sent his recommendations to the Centre for a CBI probe into the irregularities.
Asked if he saw the role of a political party in the scam, the Chief Minister said it was a "subject of investigation and it would be too early to say anything". He however added that whoever is found guilty, no matter how powerful politically, will not be spared. Six officials allegedly involved in the scam have been suspended while legal action will be taken against a seventh who is retired, he said.
Officials suspended are special land acquisition officers Dinesh Pratap Singh and Anil Kumar Shukla besides Sub-divisional Magistrates Surendra Singh Jangpangi, Jagdish Lal, Bhagat Singh Phonia and N S Nagnyal, the chief minister said. Another SDM Himalay Singh Martoliya was also suspected to be involved but legal action will have to be initiated against him as he is retired, Rawat said.
The Uttarakhand chief minister said that the SIT which was probing the irregularities will now hand over the investigations to the apex agency as many departments involved in the scam do not come under the state government. The recommendation for a CBI probe into the scam has been made on the basis of a report submitted by Kumaun Commissioner Senthil Pandiyan.
Rawat reiterated that fighting corruption was his government's top priority and it will ""fought like a crusade sparing none". The Congress had ruled Uttarakhand from early 2012 till earlier this month, when the Trivendra Singh Rawat led government was sworn in. The state was under BJP rule before that.