Three officials in a western Assam town landed in prison on Sunday for facilitating the construction of a Congress office with funds meant for a community hall.
Anowar Hussain, former Congress MP from Dhubri constituency, had in 2008-09 released from his Local Area Development (LAD) fund Rs 3.45 lakh for a community hall in Bilasipara town.
This town in Dhubri district is 250 km west of Assam capital Guwahati.
The ‘community hall’ did come up last year. But it carried a name – Rajiv Bhavan – and began functioning as the sub-divisional Congress office.
Bilasipara Grameen Jagaran Manch, a rural NGO, subsequently filed a PIL in Gauhati High Court saying money from MPLAD fund was diverted to build an asset for the Congress. MPLAD funds, routed through local administration, are not meant for political parties.
Following a directive from the court, the police in Bilasipara registered a case (No 174/09) against Raju Ahmed, secretary of the Community Hall Construction Committee. The very day Ahmed was arrested (in December), the building sported a new signboard, and it read ‘Community Hall’ instead of ‘Rajiv Bhavan’.
“We went for a deeper probe during these past three months and took necessary action against the guilty officials,” Dhubri Deputy Commissioner Jyotindra Lahkar told Hindustan Times.
Investigations revealed the community hall was to have been set up on another plot of land 3 km from where it was established. Three officials – Jayanta Kalita, assistant project officer of Planning and Development Department and junior engineers Shahjahan Ali and Shabibur Rahman – were also found to have gone overboard in pleasing their political masters.
Kalita, Ali and Rahman were arrested Saturday night, produced before a special court on Sunday and sent to Dhubri District Jail.
Apart from MPLAD fund, Assam has had a history of misuse of MLALAD money. The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General ending 31 March 2009 revealed how Kamrup district authorities had between 2004-05 and 2008-09 had created assets worth Rs 95.70 lakh on private lands.
Guidelines of MPLAD and MLALAD schemes do not provide for construction or creation of any assets for the benefit of an individual.