2006 foreign tour of Congress minister: U’khand CM may order vigilance probedehradun Updated: Feb 08, 2018 20:13 IST
The chief minister is studying related file and will seek opinion of the justice department before ordering a probe, says his media in-charge Darshan Singh Rawat .(HT File)
The state government is likely to order a probe into the alleged financial irregularities relating to a trip to South Africa by a five-member delegation comprising Congress leader and former forest minister Navprabhat and three forest officials in 2006.
The chief minister’s media in-charge Darshan Singh Rawat said: “The chief minister is studying the related file and will seek the opinion of the department of justice before ordering a vigilance inquiry into the embezzlement of funds.”
The foreign trip was organised under the ND Tiwari-led Congress government.
“In that connection, the previous Vijay Bahuguna-led Congress government conducted an inquiry. The probe had also recommended a vigilance inquiry into the misappropriation of funds for the South Africa tour of the five-member delegation,” Darshan Singh said.
The then forest minister in the Bahuguna-led Congress regime Dinesh Aggrawal refused to order an inquiry saying such a probe was redundant, he said.
The CM’s aide alleged that an amount of ₹20 lakh was illegally withdrawn from the forest department’s kitty. “The money illegally withdrawn was later deposited back in some five instalments in the next six years starting from 2006 to 2012… It was deposited only after the issue came to light,” Darshan Singh said.
According to him, apart from Navprabhat, then Congress legislator Shailendra Mohand Singhal and three forest officials visited South Africal.
The forest officials, who visited South Africa, included incumbent principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) DVS Khati and then Rajaji Tiger Reserve Director GS Pandey.
Denying the allegations, Navprabhat said ordering a vigilance inquiry was the chief minister’s discretion.
“However, the issue is in the state high court and as per norms, the government can’t order a probe of any kind into a case which is subjudice,” he said, adding such a move could turn out to be embarrassing for it.
“Such a possibility can’t be ruled out if the high court would give a clean chit to those being implicated in that case.”
Navprabhat refuted the allegations that the funds were embezzled for the foreign trip.
“There is no question of that. Funds were collected from a Society relating to the Haldwani based centre for forestry development, which has got nothing to do with the state government,” he said, adding that about ₹6 lakh that were borrowed from that Society had been deposited back.
“That was the only amount spent in the South African trip because then Congress legislator Singhal, the forest officials and I travelled in economy class.”
Navprabhat said PCCF Khati also travelled in economy class along with his family. The former minister said he and Singhal could have “chosen to travel in business class as per our entitlement but we chose to travel in economy class”.