Millennium Post

What a waste of public money!

What a waste of public money!
As if the corruption scandals tumbling out from the central government’s cupboard were not enough, there comes a fresh scandal from Uttar Pradesh from the era of former chief minister Mayawati’s BSP government, suggesting that it was not to be outdone by anybody in matters pertaining to graft. This latest scam to be unearthed has been placed before the nation by the state’s Lokayukta who has found 199 persons and firms, including ministers, government engineers and others, guilty of making illicit profits to the tune of Rs 1,410 crore from the construction of memorials and parks, Mayawati’s pet project in the state, though he has excluded her from his list but only for want of sufficient evidence. Thus, there appears to have been a large-scale conspiracy between many people, representing private interests, a political party and in government, to loot the people of Uttar Pradesh and of the country of a colossal amount of money from a project of doubtful benefit. The construction of these memorials and parks, of stone structures and statues, has been not just an extravagant affair, wasteful of huge amounts of public money in a scheme that is a white elephant when the money could have been used for projects of real value, but has also been a means for the corrupt to enrich themselves. As may be expected, the Lokayukta has detected large-scale anomalies and financial irregularities in the fixing of the price, the awarding of contracts and the supply of materials.
The Lokayukta has suggested that a further inquiry be conducted by an independent agency such as the CBI or any other agency not under the state government’s control. This is where the problem lies. The CBI has not covered itself with glory in recent days in the investigation of cases with a political tilt nor has the UPA dispensation at the centre, which controls the CBI, been above using the cases against Mayawati to keep her compliant and supportive. Mayawati escaped in the Taj heritage corridor case, being investigated by the CBI, because the UP governor, appointed by the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, refused permission to it to prosecute her. The outcome of the other corruption cases against Mayawati and the BSP, including the multi-crore scam in the implementation of JNNURM, the scam in MNERGA and in NRHM as also a disproportionate assets case against her, among others, all depend on the quality of further investigations. Thus, the punishment of the guilty in the memorials construction scam, so necessary, may depend on the CBI’s ability to function independently of the central government’s directions.
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