After focusing on the Noida land allotment and the food-for-work scams, Union Minister Kapil Sibal alleged yet another multi-crore scam involving successive non-Congress governments of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP). He alleged misappropriation of over Rs 1000 crores, with fertilizer units in UP making false claims for subsidy between March 1994 to 2000 with the connivance of the state administration.
During this period, BSP’s Mayawati was chief minister between June-October 1995 and March- September 1997. From the BJP, Kalyan Singh was CM from September 1977 to November 1999, Late Ram Prakash Gupta from November 1999 to October 2000 and Rajnath Singh from October 2000 to March 20002. Mayawati headed the UP government again from May 2002 to August 2003.
Making an issue of it with just two phases left for the UP elections, Sibal read a collusion between the BSP and the BJP on the one hand and the ruling SP and the BJP on the other. He said that Mayawati had, in January 2003, abolished the Special Investigation Bureau (SIB) that was set up in the state Agriculture department to probe the scandal after the Centre called for an inquiry. On his part, Mulayam Singh Yadav did not revive the SIB lest the BJP raise a stink on the Noida land allotments, he said at a press conference on Wednesday.
In highlighting the fertilizer scam which surfaced in 2000, Sibal made four points: one, UP was ``systematically looted’’ by all non-Congress governments in the state; two, the non-Congress parties colluded in the loot; three, the scandals relating to land allotment, food-grain and fertilizer subsidy have hit the poor; and four, the matter involved a larger federal issue since the Centre has no control over the finances it releases to states and cannot even order a CBI probe unless the state calls for it.
But before it was scrapped, the SIB’s limited inquiry into 15 of the 29 fertiliser units showed large scale misappropriations relating to the purchase and transportation of rock phosphate to the fertilizer unit for conversion into single super phospate (SSP) for supply to consumers.
Under the subsidy scheme, the Centre pays 80% of the subsidy to the units when they make a claim. The remaining 20% is released when the state government gives a report verifying the claims of respective units. ``The SIB’s finding was that the claims were fake,’’ said Sibal. Documents relating to purchase of rock phosphate were either missing, incomplete or forged. There was no proof to show that the raw material was carried by railway wagon. Documents showing transportation of rock phosphate from the railway station to the units was that of scooters and motorcycles. ``Obviously, no rock phosphate was transported,’’ the SIB concluded.
In a writ petition filed in Allahabad High Court in September 2003, the Centre, in an affidavit, said that about Rs 200 crores were misappropriated. "This is in the absence of a full-fledged inquiry in respect of all 29 units. The misappropriation might have run into more than Rs 1,000 crores had such an inquiry been made in respect of all the units", Sibal said.