CBI will interrogate former Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan-Deepak Singhal in Gomti River Front scam, permission sought from the government

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Lucknow: The CBI has sought permission from the Uttar Pradesh government to interrogate the then chief secretaries of the state, Alok Ranjan and Deepak Singhal, in connection with the scam in the ambitious Gomti river front project. After the permission of the government, the CBI will interrogate both the retired bureaucrats. Based on the CBI’s investigation so far, a list of questions has also been prepared for the interrogation of both the former IAS officers. The CBI wants to know what role these officers played in the corruption and large-scale irregularities in the implementation of the Gomti River Front project. However, questions are also being raised on Shivpal Singh Yadav, the then Minister of Irrigation Department and National General Secretary of SP. There are about 180 people including 16 engineers of the department under the ambit of investigation.

Akhilesh Yadav government’s plan, investigation in Yogi government

The Gomti River Front Development Project was started during the Akhilesh Yadav regime (2012-17). The objective of the project was beautification and landscaping of the banks of the Gomti River in the state capital Lucknow. The purpose of the project was to channelize the water of the river by placing a diaphragm wall on both the banks and intercepting the drains. After coming to power in 2017, the Yogi government ordered the first probe into alleged irregularities in the Gomti riverfront project. On June 19, 2017, an FIR was registered against several people, including senior officials of the Irrigation Department. The investigation was later handed over to the CBI.

1,437 crore spent without 60 percent work in the project

The CBI probe initially confirmed that a budget of Rs 1,513 crore was sanctioned for the project and about Rs 1,437 crore (95 per cent of the total budget) was spent without even completing 60 per cent of the project. Many discrepancies came to the fore in the expenditure. Moreover, the company to which the riverfront beautification work was allotted was a defaulter. The Enforcement Directorate had also started investigation under the Money Laundering Act. On February 17, 2021, the CBI filed a charge sheet in the CBI court in Lucknow against six people, including two directors of the firm that was allotted the river channelization work, and later two in Lucknow. Irrigation engineers were arrested.

The Allahabad High Court is taking a tough stand on the corrupt

Not only the CBI, the Allahabad High Court has also taken a tough stand in the multi-crore scam. Recently, Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh’s single bench of Allahabad High Court refused to grant anticipatory bail to project consultant Badri Shrestha. The court had also made serious remarks on the role of the project consultant, the evidence available against him and the magnitude of corruption committed in the project. Justice Singh had said that in the case of economic crimes deep conspiracy and loss of huge public money need to be looked into seriously as these are serious crimes affecting the country’s economy. “While granting bail, the court has to take into account the nature of the allegations, the magnitude and gravity of the offense as well as the evidence supporting the nature of the allegations.”

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