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HindustanTimes Sun,23 Nov 2014

Misuse of funds in construction of Dalit memorials

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Lucknow, July 03, 2014
First Published: 20:25 IST(3/7/2014) | Last Updated: 20:29 IST(3/7/2014)

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has detected massive embezzlement of funds meant for construction of five Dalit memorials at Lucknow and Noida, whose outlay had been raised from the original Rs. 943 crore to a whopping Rs. 4,558 crore by the Mayawati government.

In September 2012, the Samajwadi Party government had urged Lokayukta to probe into the construction of the memorials---four in Lucknow and one in Noida.

Lokayukta justice (retd) NK Mehrotra had detected a Rs. 1,410-crore scam in the construction of these memorials to Dalit icons, including Maywati herself, and party's election symbol, elephant.

The lokayukta had ordered that an FIR should be registered against former PWD minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui and former mining minister Babu Singh Kushwaha besides 19 engineers of Rajkiya Nirman Nigam (RNN), the executing agency.

The construction work on these memorials was carried out without obtaining environmental clearance. Neither was a high-level committee constituted to supervise and monitor the works, said the report tabled in the assembly on Tuesday by parliamentary affairs minister Azam Khan.

The CAG report says in 2007 the Mayawati government sanctioned construction of four memorials at Lucknow--- Dr Bhima Rao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sthal, Manyavar Kashirma Smaraka Sthal, Buddha Vihar Shanti Upvan and Eco Park as well as Manyavar Kanshiram Green Eco Garden. 
Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green Garden was sanctioned at NOIDA.

During audit, the CAG noticed the expenditure finance committee did not consider the necessity and expediency of the projects. The RNN incurred an excess expenditure of Rs. 10.53 crore due to imprudent financial management.

The RNN did not select experts for comprehensive consultancy and architectural services through competitive bidding. Payment was made at higher rate for repetitive works to a consultant, resulting in additional expenditure of Rs. 2.31 crore.

Since the project was not conceived as a whole, addition of new works during execution phase resulted in additional expenditure of Rs. 3,537.68 crore between 2007 and 2010.

The report said an infructuous expenditure of Rs. 29.62 crore was incurred on dismantling newly-constructed structures because of frequent amendment to drawings and designs of the projects.

There is no record of the scrap material retrieved from dismantled structure.

The construction works were carried out at higher rates, leading to a loss of Rs. 398 crore to state exchequer. Excess expenditure (Rs 13 crore) was incurred on purchase of bronze murals, fountains and capitals.  Extra expenditure (Rs 16.11 crore) was made on purchase of sandstones, the report said.


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