Now, NHAI wants case against its officials in NH-74 scam dropped
NHAI chairman Yudhvir Singh Malik writes to Uttarakhand government to drop names of regional officials named in a case filed by previous Congress governmentdehradun Updated: May 29, 2017 21:08 IST
In a fresh twist to the alleged NH-74 land scam, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has asked the Uttarakhand government to withdraw a case filed against its local officials.
The case was filed by the previous Congress government. The current dispensation led by chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has recommended a CBI probe into the ₹300-crore scam.
In a recent letter, NHAI chairman Yudhvir Singh Malik reportedly asked the state government to remove the names of NHAI’s regional officials from the FIR.
Cabinet minister Madan Kaushik confirmed that NHAI authorities have asked the CM to withdraw the FIR against their regional officials. “The request by top NHAI authorities was made during his (Rawat) recent meeting with Nitin Gadkariji in Delhi, where I was also present,” Kaushik, who is also the state government’s spokesperson, told Hindustan Times.
Rawat met Gadkari days after the Union road surface minister sent a letter to the Uttarakhand government stating that a CBI probe into the NH-74 land scam would demoralise the NHAI officials. Rawat had confirmed as much. “He (Gadkari) wrote to us that NHAI being a funding agency, the role of its officials’ was limited to releasing the monetary compensation that was to be disbursed among farmers whose land was acquired for the NH-74 coming up in the Udham Singh Nagar district,” Rawat had said.
In his letter, Gadkari had clarified that the NHAI had released the monetary compensation as per the suggestion of the state government officials.
“The NHAI made the request on the same plea that its regional officials released the monetary compensation as per the suggestions of the local officials as they did not want the work on NH-74 to be delayed”, Kaushik said. “It (NHAI) also clarified that as per its mandate, its officials had no role in disbursing monetary compensation to farmers or acquiring land from them, which is the jurisdiction of state government”, he clarified.
Kaushik further said that the state government’s stand was that the case against the NHAI’s regional officials “stands” as they failed to raise objections when the state officials “paid monetary compensation to farmers” beyond the legally prescribed limit. “Also, our plea is that its (NHAI) regional officials disbursed monetary compensation among farmers at will or on the basis of pick and choose”, he told HT.
The names of NHAI officials figure along with those of the state government against whom the previous Congress regime lodged a case in Rudrapur. A week after the BJP formed its government in the state in March this year, six sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) rank officials were suspended and a case registered against a seventh official, who had retired. Rawat had then said that he has recommended for a CBI probe into the scam.