ESCALATED COSTS, violation of tender norms, failure to obtain necessary approvals and, Rs 9 crore spent on catching snakes at a park. These are some of the charges that may be investigated by the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh during a “detailed special audit” into alleged irregularities in three flagship projects undertaken by the previous SP government headed by Akhilesh Yadav.
According to officials, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s office has received a recommendation to order the “special audit” on costs incurred to build the Janeshwar Mishra Park and Jai Prakash Narayan International Centre (JNIPC), and development of the Hussainabad area in Lucknow’s old city. All the three projects were undertaken under the direct supervision of Akhilesh, who headed the Housing department, which carried out these projects.
In May, two months after the new government took charge, Lucknow Divisional Commissioner Anil Garg constituted three separate committees to probe these projects separately. Each committee was headed by a chief engineer of the public works department with a superintending engineer and two executive engineers as its other members. Their reports, which recommended the special audit, were submitted last week. According to officials, the probe panels found that Rs 864 crore had been spent on developing JPNIC, which is yet to be completed; Rs 396 crore on Janeshwar Mishra Park; and around Rs 265 crore for the Hussainabad development.
“These amounts are more than the double the initial sanctioned costs for the projects,” said sources. When contacted by The Indian Express, Garg did not discuss specific findings of the reports but said that “a special audit has been recommended in the JPNIC and Hussainabad heritage zone projects”.
“Financial anomalies have been found in execution of the projects. Rules were violated in tender process of various works in these projects. The probe panels reported that procurement of different material and equipment for these projects, some of which were not needed, were done on the rates much higher than existing market rates,” said Garg.
According to sources, the government audit is likely to investigate these charges:
* Hussainabad, with areas close to protected monuments, was redeveloped without obtaining a no-objection certificate from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Normal road material was replaced with cobalt stones, and normal streetlights with designer lights.
* At Janeshwar Mishra Park, several boats, each costing Rs 20 lakh, were purchased. Around Rs 14 crore was spent on landscape and horticulture work, and around Rs 9 crore paid for catching snakes. Developed across 376 acres, the park has a 10.5-km-long walkway and a water body with Gondola rides. “The inquiry committee has pointed out anomalies in procurement done for the park and the accountability of LDA officials concerned should be fixed,” said an official associated with the probe.
* The JNIPC, which includes a museum, a guest house, an aquatic block with international-level swimming and diving pools, a convention centre and a sports complex, is yet to be completed. “Under the special audit, any agency engaged by the government will conduct a detailed probe into the financial aspects of these projects,” said sources.
Akhilesh had inaugurated Janeshwar Mishra Park in August 2014, JPNIC on October 11, 2016, and the Hussainabad redevelopment on December 4, 2016.