The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Taj sleuths set to quiz former CM

Lucknow, Aug. 31: The CBI is preparing to interrogate former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati to find what made her order the commencement of the controversial Taj heritage corridor project in “undue haste”.

CBI sources here confirmed that the decision was taken by bureau joint director Watson and deputy inspector-general P. Neeraj Nayan after discussions with director P.C. Sharma yesterday.

“We have evidence indicating that Mayavati was not telling the truth when she claimed that she had no prior knowledge of the ongoing work on the Taj corridor project,” said a bureau official who refused to be named.

The CBI has already questioned former state environment minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui, chief secretary D.S. Bagga, then chief minister’s principal secretary P.L. Punia, Union environment secretary K.C. Sharma and state principal secretary (irrigation) Satish Kumar Agarwal.

According to the CBI, the work at the project site began on the basis of “oral orders” issued by then state environment secretary R.K. Sharma. A file, the bureau said, was sent to Mayavati through Siddiqui to obtain her approval, which was later conveyed through Punia.

Siddiqui had sent the file to Mayavati directly without routing it through the chief secretary. The file is said to have contained a note saying the chief secretary had approved the mission management board’s decision to immediately commence work on the project.

CBI sources said the bureau had, so far, not found any basis for assessing the project cost at Rs 175 crore.

They alleged that work on the banks of the Yamuna was started without “preparation and approval of techno-feasibility report, detailed project report, detailed drawings and cost estimates”.

The bureau’s inquiries have revealed that the state had not sent the techno-feasibility report and other documents to the Centre for clearance. The work was said to have been started without the state signing any agreement with the National Project Construction Corporation.

Sources said the CBI had evidence indicating Siddiqui tried to cover up his May, 2003, order to release Rs 20 crore for the project when the controversy hit the headlines.

The state’s former standing counsel, Ajay Agarwal, alleged the Mayavati government had released large sums of money for an administrative centre of the Taj Trapezium Zone without clearance.

“The Taj corridor scam is only the tip of an icerbeg,” he said over the phone.

The state government had sacked Agarwal in July after he alleged he was being threatened by a senior state official.

Email This Page