Lokayukta told to probe ‘sandstone scam’
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In its first action against alleged corruption during the previous BSP regime, the Akhilesh Yadav government has written to Lokayukta N K Mehrotra to probe alleged financial irregularities in the supply and purchase of sandstone used for construction of various memorials and parks built in Lucknow and Noida.
A letter asking for an inquiry, and the report of a preliminary inquiry already conducted by the vigilance establishment, was sent to the Lokayukta on Wednesday.
The Lokayukta has been asked to look into the role of officials of the Rajkiya Nirman Nigam (RNN) and Lucknow Development Authority (LDA), both of which were involved in the construction of parks and memorials, along with officials of the Directorate of Geology and Mining, the supplier of sandstone, and the leaseholders of stone quarries in Mirzapur and Sonbhadra who sold sandstone to RNN.
According to the preliminary inquiry, then Joint Director in the Directorate of Geology and Mining S A Farooqui wrote a letter to the managing director of RNN on July 10, 2007, saying that the pink variety of sandstone found in Mirzapur had been chosen for constructions of parks and memorials, and directed RNN to make an agreement with Ms Shashi Shekhar Marble Corporation Ltd, Makrana, Rajasthan, for delivery of sandstone to Lucknow after the sizing and shaping of the unfinished stone.
The preliminary report said that the meeting between RNN officials and the owner of Ms Shashi Shekhar Marble Corporation Ltd, Makrana, was arranged by Farooqui and he also suggested the formation of a consortium of mining leaseholders from Mirzapur for easy availability of sandstone. The report said that the formation of consortium was illegal as several of the 39 mining leaseholders who formed the consortium had not renewed their mining licenses in 2007.
It is alleged that money at the rate of Rs 75 per cubic foot sandstone was siphoned off. A total of 11,330 cubic metre sandstone was supplied between July 7, 2007, and December 31, 2007, and another 24,282 cubic metre between January 1, 2008, and November 21, 2008, said Mehrotra, quoting from the preliminary inquiry report.
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