The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Thursday conducted searches in Uttar Pradesh in connection with alleged irregularities of over Rs 111 crore in the construction of memorials in the state during BSP chief Mayawati’s tenure as chief minister.
Searches were conducted at seven locations – private and commercial – of contractors and two UP Rajkiya Nirman Nigam (UPRNN) engineers in Lucknow.
Sources said the ED filed a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to probe allegations after taking cognizance of a UP vigilance department complaint of 2014.
The ED searches come weeks after the CBI searched more than a dozen locations in connection with an illegal mining case that allegedly involves Samajwadi Party leaders including former chief minister and party president Akhilesh Yadav. Incidentally, Yadav and Mayawati recently announced an alliance to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
According to sources in the ED, alleged irregularities in the memorials case are primarily connected to the purchase of the same quality stones at different rates, supply by relatives of UP Nirman Nigam and violations of government rules.
The vigilance complaint, officials said, was filed under various sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act and it pertained to alleged financial irregularities in the construction of memorials, including statues of BSP founder Kanshi Ram and the party’s poll symbol ‘elephant’, when Mayawati was CM, between 2007 and 2012.
The construction of the memorials allegedly “resulted in the loss of over Rs 111,44,35,066 to the government exchequer and unlawful gain to public servants and private individuals”. The state government under Mayawati had built the memorials, statues and parks that cost over Rs 2,600 crore across UP.
“The Vigilance Department had booked the officials and contractors for criminal conspiracy, abuse of official position, criminal misconduct, criminal breach of trust and corruption,” said an ED official.
“The anomalies being probed in the case relate to the purchase of same quality red stone at three different rates, the role of suppliers and a consortium which provided stones at such exorbitant rates, supply of stones by relatives of officers of UP Nirman Nigam, non-compliance of summons issued by ED and violation of govt rules in giving lease deeds to people for sandstone mining in Mirzapur for supply of such material,” said sources.
A case in this regard was registered when Akhilesh Yadav was chief minister, who ordered a Lokayukta probe in 2012. The Lokayukta, Justice (retd) N K Mehrotra, in his report, had reportedly indicted 199 people for irregularities in the construction of 14 memorials in Lucknow and Noida.
Later, an FIR was registered in 2014 against Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Babu Singh Kushwaha, ministers in Mayawati’s cabinet, and officers of the state government and the UP Rajkiya Nirman Nigam.