The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Maya glare on Amit

Lucknow, May 16: The Mayavati government has moved against Amitabh Bachchan within three days of the swearing-in, taking its first step against Mulayam Singh Yadav’s high-profile friends.

The government’s weapon is a three-month-old letter lying at the Barabanki district magistrate’s office, sent by the last Speaker’s office. It seeks a report on the actor’s purchase of land in the district, about 30 km from here, that allegedly belonged to the local panchayat and was meant solely for farmers’ welfare.

The new government has already changed the DM and asked incumbent L. Johri to file the report soon. “We have to see how quickly I can send the report,” Johri said.

“We won’t push the matter under the carpet,” state cabinet secretary Shashank Shekhar said. “The case will reach its logical conclusion.”

Hours after the poll results were out, Mayavati had promised to probe every controversial decision by her predecessor. So, projects awarded to some of Mulayam’s other friends, too, are likely to soon come under the scanner.

These include two of Anil Ambani’s power projects — Dadri (7,800 MW) and Roza (600 MW) — and Subroto Roy’s proposed Sahara City on Lucknow’s fringes.

Amitabh had bought two plots at Barabanki, one of 15-odd acres and the other smaller. His wife Jaya had failed to mention the larger plot when she filed her Rajya Sabha nomination last year.

A complaint to the Election Commission from a lawyer and small-time Congress activist led to the February 6 letter by R.P. Pandey, returning officer for the state Rajya Sabha polls, to the then Barabanki DM, Nitishwar Rai. He never replied.

Asked about Anil Ambani’s and Roy’s projects, the cabinet secretary said: “If any industrial policy is not running smoothly, we may have to do something.”

The Rs 10,000-crore Dadri project is stalled by protests from farmers who say they were not properly compensated for the land — about 2,500 acres across seven villages. Ambani also took over the Roza thermal project in Shahjahanpur. State power employees want both deals scrapped.

Roy is yet to get land for his private city. The Lucknow Industrial Development Authority’s clearance awaits the nod from the Union commerce ministry’s board of approvals.

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