Alleging corruption, UP CM Yogi puts a scanner on Akhilesh’s big-ticket projects
A month after taking over, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has put most of the Akhilesh Yadav-era big-ticket projects under the scanner. The new government believes that the officials, including politicians, may not have been above board in the execution of these projects and may have engaged in corruption.
To name a few, the list includes the new Agra-Lucknow Expressway and the Gomti river front development project. All these projects were widely flaunted by former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav as evidence of the development which his government undertook over the last five years.
The government is also clamping down on builders, including the Jaypee group, who have faltered on delivery of housing projects along the Yamuna Expressway which connects Greater Noida and Agra.
Setback upon setback
In yet another setback to the Yadav clan, some family members who had applied for conversion of their plots in area under the Lucknow Development Authority from residential to commercial use could face rejection in the coming days when the authority board meets next. Shivpal Yadav, the former cabinet minister and Akhilesh's uncle, and Sadhna Yadav, his step mother, Arvind Singh Bisht, another relative of the Yadav family are reported to be among list of 58 applicants.
A top official of the LDA told Catch how these 58 applicants had not deposited the requisite conversion charges to the authority. Moreover, according to this official, they did not even give the maps which the authority asked for. He says there are also some in the list who just did a part payment of the conversion charges. “All these applications will be rejected when the board meets,” the official says.
Interestingly, Satyendra Singh, the former Vice Chairman of the LDA, is among those whose application is set to be rejected. Talked about in Lucknow for his alleged corruption during his tenure in the LDA, it was during Singh's term that this proposal to convert residential properties to commercial came up and was implemented. Singh also made the office of the vice chairman, the sole authority to approve such changes in land use. That too has changed now and all such proposals will now require the board's nod. Singh, it is alleged gave away plots to influential people on much less than the market rate.
Singh, along with Navneet Sehgal, another influential bureaucrat in the state for the last two decades for his proximity to both Akhilesh Yadav and former Chief Minister Mayawati were put on the compulsory wait-list after Yogi Adityanath took charge of the state.
Pet road projects
That expensive expressways, such as the Yamuna Expressway and the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, are going to face heightened scrutiny could be gauged from the fact that the Chief Minister sought details of land deals in Noida.
The Yamuna Expressway Infrastructure Development Authority recently cancelled allotments of at least 17 projects by six builders along the expressway. Around 500 hectares of land was allotted to Jaypee Infratech to develop in lieu of constructing the expressway. Most of these permisssions have been cancelled for the builder's failure to abide by the maps submitted to the authorities.
The government has also instituted enquiries to look into land acquisition for the 302-km Agra-Lucknow expressway.
The Expressway, which was completed at a final cost of about Rs 15,000 crore, has been in the BJP leadership's crosshairs even during the election campaign. Manoj Sinha, the union minister, had pointed out how the cost of constructing a kilometre of road came to more than Rs 30 crore which was more than twice the cost of road construction under the Central government projects. The expressway passes through Samajwadi's erstwhile bastion, the districts of Ferozabad, Mainpuri, Etawah, Kannauj among others.
Reports say that land was converted from agrarian to under areas of habitation fraudulently before the acquisition. Moreover, there are also allegations that circle rate was hiked to ensure more compensation and lowered again once it was acquired. Now the authorities in the districts have been asked to enquire into the ownership of the acquired land and find out if it changed hands before it was acquired, and if so, who were the beneficiaries.
Earlier, the Chief Minister had instituted an enquiry commission to be lead by a former High Court judge to look into excess spending in the Gomati Riverfront development project in the state capital. Another Akhilesh flagship project, it is alleged, the last government splurged 90% of the allotted Rs 1,513 crore while the project was still away from completion. It is alleged that 90% of the funds have been exhausted for just completing 60% of the project.