Rijiju 'shoes' away slur

Junior home minister Kiren Rijiju today said those who planted news against him "will be beaten with shoes", contesting allegations of corruption levelled against him in connection with a power project scam in Arunachal Pradesh.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 14.12.16
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Rijiju

New Delhi, Dec. 13: Junior home minister Kiren Rijiju today said those who planted news against him "will be beaten with shoes", contesting allegations of corruption levelled against him in connection with a power project scam in Arunachal Pradesh.

"People who planted the story will be beaten up with shoes when they will come to our area. Is helping people of my constituency corruption? This news is nothing but mischief," Rijiju told reporters in North Block while reacting to media reports that he had written a letter to power minister Piyush Goyal seeking clearance of bills related to the ongoing hydro-electric project in Arunachal.

West Kameng district, the site for the power project in Arunachal Pradesh, is Rijiju's parliamentary constituency.

Rijiju, his cousin Goboi Rijiju and several other officials of North Eastern Electrical Power Corporation (Neepco), including its chairman and managing director, have been accused of corruption in the construction of two dams for the 600-MW Kameng scheme, one of the biggest hydro-electric projects in Arunachal Pradesh. Neepco comes under the Union power ministry.

Their names figure in a 129-page report filed by public sector undertakings chief vigilance officer Satish Verma. The report was sent to the central vigilance commissioner, the CBI and the power ministry in July. The CBI made two "surprise checks" but no FIR has been registered yet.

"We are still collecting all the documents and related papers," a CBI officer said today.

The chief vigilance officer alleged huge irregularities and an "elaborate conspiracy" involving contractors, Neepco officials and the West Kameng administration to siphon off government funds that "may extend up to Rs 450 crore".

The report claimed that several fake and inflated bills by contractors in the name of transporting rocks were used to defraud the government. It alleged that many transport receipts provided by contractors were found to be fake.

In the wake of the alleged irregularities, the vigilance officer sent an advisory to the project head and the payment was stopped to the builders and contractors, one of whom was Goboi. In November 2015, Rijiju had written a letter to power minister Goyal and referred to a petition from local people about the payment to the builders and contractors that was stopped.

"I have written a letter to the power minister after I received petitions from people in my constituency regarding pending bills. I have done no wrong and this is no corruption," the junior minister said.

He also distanced himself from Goboi. "He is not related to me. I do not know him."

The 129-page report described Goboi as Rijiju's cousin.

Soon after his report was filed, Satish Verma, who was a member of the SIT that had probed the alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan in Gujarat in 2004 when Narendra Modi was chief minister, was transferred to the CRPF in Tripura. Verma had claimed Ishrat's killing was a "premeditated murder".

In the evening, Rijiju tweeted: "Really cheap! This is the copy of representation I received and forwarding letter to power minister. Is it a corruption helping poor Tribals?"

The Congress demanded Rijiju's removal immediately and asked for fair and free probe into the case.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi's claim of transparency is now under question. People are watching what action he takes in the Arunachal scam," a Congress spokesperson said.