Rethink CBI probe into highways scam or we’ll rethink projects: Gadkari to Uttarakhand
The conflicting stands of the BJP-led Union and state governments could disrupt and delay highway projects in Uttarakhand.
Union roads minister Nitin Gadkari cautioned last month that he might be forced to “re-examine” all new projects in Uttarakhand if the state government led by Trivendra Singh Rawat doesn’t reconsider its order for a CBI probe into a national highways scam.
For his part, Rawat said on Tuesday his government will not withdraw the decision.
The conflicting stands of the BJP-led Union and state governments could disrupt and delay highway projects in Uttarakhand that require good roads to strengthen tourism, the hill state’s economic mainstay.
The alleged financial scandal in land acquisition for the Rs 4,000-crore national highway 74 project surfaced during the Congress rule in the state.
The BJP accused Congress leaders of corruption and promised a CBI probe during its campaign for the assembly polls this January and February. After the BJP’s landslide victory, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat ordered an investigation by the central agency.
The decision put Gadkari in a fix as the CBI summoned National Highway Development Authority (NHAI) officials for questioning.
In a letter to Rawat on April 5, he warned that the state’s actions are “bound to have adverse impact on the morale of the officers and would impede execution of projects”.
“In this background, we would have to re-examine the usefulness of taking up more projects in the state,” he wrote, asking Rawat to take “immediate corrective measures”.
The warning follows Gadkari’s announcement that his ministry has taken up “expansion and upgradation” of highways, including improving connectivity to popular hill stations and the annual Char Dham pilgrimage circuit.
The Char Dham encompasses Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, drawing thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year. Uttarakhand is often referred to as “Dev Bhoomi” or Land of the Gods and its majestic mountains and lush valleys are dotted with temples.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised Rs 11,000 crore to build and improve roads leading to these four sites before the assembly elections. He laid the project’s foundation after the BJP’s win.
Gadkari’s letter gave the opposition Congress the opportunity to accuse the Union minister of trying to protect corrupt officials.
“It’s strange that the Union minister has openly threatened the state government,” Uttarakhand Congress president Pritam Singh said.