The probe into the estimated Rs. 1,000-crore Noida farmhouse scam of 2009 during the BSP regime in Uttar Pradesh promised to be a potboiler after preliminary investigations found several IAS and PCS officers not only having violated norms for allotment of prime land but also having charged premiums for allotments. Then chief minister Mayawati was also drawn into the investigation but the whole affair turned out to be a damp squib when Lokayukta Justice (retd) NK Mehrotra probing the scam said there wasn’t a shred of evidence against Mayawati and the officers involved in the allotments.
Soon after coming to power in March 2012 the SP government headed by Akhilesh Yadav announced it would bring the scamsters of the BSP regime to justice after it found that the BSP government had allotted land to 120 private companies and 29 individuals to construct farmhouses. But instead of farmhouses many firms built motels, banquet halls and swimming pools.
The state government lost no time in directing Noida Authority chairman Rakesh Bahadur in May 2012 to conduct an inquiry into the scam and submit a report within a week. Bahadur in his report blamed the former chairman and CEO of the Noida Authority, Mohinder Singh, and 14 other officers, saying they made “wrong interpretations of the authority’s bylaws, which resulted in large-scale irregularities”.
Keen to nail the previous Mayawati regime, the SP government referred Bahadur’s report to the Lokayukta in August 2012. But Lokayukta Justice (retired) NK Mehrotra said in his report released on Monday, “I cannot find any credible evidence against Mayawati or the officers regarding manipulation, graft or favouritism in the allotment of the farmhouses.”
Not surprisingly, BSP leaders welcomed the report, the BJP cried foul, alleging a deal between the SP and BSP and there was silence from the SP.
Mehrotra says in his report, “I wrote to Rakesh Bahadur to submit evidence but he did not reply. The same was the case with BJP leaders Kirit Somaya, Kalraj Mishra and Vinay Katiyar. They submitted a memorandum to Governor BL Joshi demanding a probe but did not respond to my queries. Even the applicants who were denied allotment did not give evidence regarding irregularities.”
So, what was seen as a major scam turned out to be a mirage. Mehrotra says, “The allotment rules give an escape route to the officers. There are no set rules for allotment of land in Noida. Since 1983 the Authority has been allotting land on the basis of interviews. It’s the discretion of the officers to allot land to a person and deny it to others.”