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BJP rejects officers’ panel

Imphal, Dec. 3: The BJP today rejected the officers’ committee set up by the Okram Ibobi Singh government to inquire into allegations of irregularities in the Loktak lake clearing project and reiterated its demand for an independent probe.

“The state government should institute an inquiry committee headed by a sitting Supreme Court judge with a special auditor from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India office. There should be an independent and fair inquiry into the scam,” P. Chandrashekhar Rao, the BJP’s zonal organisational secretary in-charge of Northeast, said here today.

A BJP team headed by Rao today inspected the project at the lake.

The Ibobi Singh government last month constituted an officers’ committee to look into allegations that irregularities were committed by the Loktak Development Authority (LDA) in awarding the Rs 224-crore contract to K. Pro Infra Works Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of the Hyderabad-based Progressive Construction Ltd, on August 1, 2009.

The work involves clearing of phumdis (floating bio-mass) from the 236.21 square km Loktak lake.

Ibobi Singh is the chairman of the development authority.

Ibobi Singh’s setting up of the officers’ committee came after non-Congress parties — the BJP, CPI, CPM, Trinamul Congress, JD (U), JD (S) and Manipur Peoples Party, demanded an inquiry into the lake project.

The BJP also raised the Loktak project issue in Parliament.

The leaders claimed that the Ibobi Singh government constituted the officers’ committee after the Centre sought a detailed report on the project after their party raised the issue in Parliament.

“Hence, the Ibobi government formed the officers’ committee. It clearly shows the intention of the Ibobi Singh-led government to cover up wrongdoings,” Chandrashekhar Rao said.

BJP leaders said during the visit, three hydraulic excavators, which were meant to be used in the clearance of phumdis, were found defunct for several years.

Chandrashekhar Rao interacted with Loktak fishermen who were evicted from the lake and assured them of justice. Many lake settlers were evicted as part of the ongoing project. Rao also demanded a status report on the project.

“As Ibobi is the main culprit of the said scam and also the chief minister, how can the recently constituted officers’ committee, members of which are serving under him, take action against Ibobi?” Rao asked.

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