Guwahati, July 9: Members of the House committee, constituted by the Assam Assembly to inquire into allegations of corruption in the Assam Board of Wakfs, have been shocked to find Rs 37 lakh was spent on organising the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the board’s permanent office here.
A three-member team of the committee, comprising AIUDF legislators Sherman Ali Ahmed and Ataur Rahman Mazarbhuiya and AGP MLA Bhupen Roy, today conducted a spot verification of the plot of land at Dakhingaon in the city where the office is to be constructed.
The team was aghast at the board’s claim that Rs 37 lakh was spent in holding the function. “It appears to be a huge scandal. In my view, around 90 per cent of the funds have been misappropriated since only the foundation stone plaque stands on the plot of land,” Sherman Ali Ahmed told The Telegraph.
Echoing Ahmed, Roy said under no circumstances Rs 37 lakh could be spent for laying the foundation stone.
“The state government had sanctioned Rs 1 crore for construction of the office building and they have spent Rs 37 lakh on the foundation stone-laying function only, which anybody will find difficult to digest. The amount has been highly exaggerated,” Ahmed said.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi had unveiled the foundation stone on February 8, 2011, when former Congress MLA Abdul Khaleque was the chairperson of the board.
Ahmed said that the Assembly committee has issued a directive not to make the payment until their inquiry is complete.
“We have strong reasons to suspect that a nexus among office-bearers and officials of the Wakf board, minority affairs department of the state government, public works department (building) and contractors could be behind this scandal,” he said.
“Even spending Rs 2 or 3 lakh for holding such a function is considered a high amount. We will seek further details from the board on why they had spent such a huge amount,” Roy said.
Assembly Speaker Pranab Gogoi had ordered formation of the committee, which is headed by Congress MLA Abdul Muhib Mazumdar, in December last year. The Speaker constituted the committee after Sherman Ali Ahmed raised the issue in the Assembly alleging anomalies in the Wakf board.
Wakf is a permanent dedication of movable or immovable properties for religious, pious or charitable purposes as recognised by Muslim law, given by philanthropists in different states of India. The grant is known as mushrut-ul-khidmat, while a person making such dedication is known as wakif.