Uttar Pradesh is developing rapidly, at least the state government claims so. The ruling Samajwadi Party government led by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is trying to win the ongoing Assembly Elections in the state on the ‘development’ plank.
This is why all of the government’s energies are focussed on highlighting how the government has actively been trying to build the state.
But in the middle of the heat of the elections comes a report which accuses the Akhilesh Yadav government of graft in the construction of the four-lane highway on the Delhi-Saharanpur to Yamunotri route.
Hindi daily Amar Ujala reports that the scam is worth Rs.455 crore and involves officials of a private company called SEW-LSY Highways Limited in collusion with some bankers.
The Uttar Pradesh State Highway Authority (UPSHA) filed a fraud case against 18 individuals including the company’s director, promoter and employees of 14 different banks.
The banks are accused of sanctioning loans worth Rs.1,700 crore on forged documents.
How did UPSHA unearth the scam? They tallied the actual cost of the project with the cost shown in the financial plan. While the actual cost was only Rs.1,735 crore, the plan reflected a cost of Rs.2,770 crore.
The case has now been transferred to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW).
But in a Facebook post, IAS officer Dr Surya Pratap Singh accuses UPSHA chief Navneet Sehgal of being party to the graft.
He writes that despite knowing fully well that SEW was not doing its job, UPSHA extended its contract on June 11, 2014.
In his post, Dr Singh writes that the contract was signed on March 30, 2012 but work remains stalled since 2013. He claims that UPSHA filed the case because it has sensed the change in the political winds. “Navneet Sehgal has sensed that BJP is coming to power and it will investigate the graft in construction of the expressway as well as other state highways.
In his post, Dr Singh raises a series of questions. Notable of them are why a review of the work was not done periodically, why the contract was not cancelled despite the fact that work had stopped in November 2013, why was the project not transferred to NHAI despite the Centre asking the same, and how much of PWD’s money was spent when the project was a PPP one.
Dr Singh says that his accusations against Sehgal are correct. He says that the pathetic condition of the road running from Saharanpur to Gauripur reflects the ‘development’ work done by the state government.