LUCKNOW: The sleuths of Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted widespread raids at seven locations of engineers and contractors across state capital Lucknow on Thursday in connection with financial irregularities in memorial scam worth Rs 1400- crore which had taken place during erstwhile Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) regime.
According to sources, the ED is conducting probe into the swindling off public money by the engineers and contractors in sale and purchase of sandstone and marble used to build 14 memorials in Lucknow
and Noida by the then state government headed by BSP chief Mayawati.
The raids in memorial scam were conducted at several localities, including Gomti Nagar and Hazratganj in Lucknow.
The ED raid came days after the Allahabad High Court sought the progress report of a vigilance probe into the alleged multi-crore scam in the building of monuments and parks when BSP chief Mayawati was the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.
The timing of the ED action is bound to provide ammo to Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party leadership to attack the BJP government attributing the raids to its vendetta politics allegedly to scare
the two parties who have stitched up an alliance against the saffron party in Uttar Pradesh for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Last month, the ED had registered an FIR under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against 11 people, including the 2008 batch IAS officer and Samajwadi Party (SP) MLC Ramesh Kumar Mishra, who were booked by the CBI’s Delhi unit on January 2 in cases of illegal mining in Hamirpur.
Earlier, CBI had conducted searches at around 12 places in Lucknow, Noida, Kanpur, Jalaun and Hamirpur in connection with illegal mining case on January 5. The probe agency had claimed that it may summon the then CM Akhilesh Yadav as he had held the mining portfolio between 2012 and 2013.
While Akhilesh had claimed it to be the vendetta politics of the BJP, his new-found ally BSP chief Mayawati, too, had come out in support of the SP chief claiming Modi government was misusing the probe agency to intimidate his political rivals.
However, the SP leaders chose to be tight-lipped over the Thursday raids as the probe into the scam was initiated by the Samajwadi Party government which rode to power defeating the BSP in 2012. The SP
government had entrusted the then Lokayukta with the probe into the scam. The Lokayukta, in his report, had indicted 199 persons including the then BSP minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui in 2013. Siddiqui later parted ways with Mayawati and joined Congress.
Later, the state vigilance department had lodged an FIR in the case and a special investigative team (SIT) was set up comprising seven inspectors to inquire into the charges of money laundering during the construction of memorials and parks between 2007 and 2011.
During its regime, the BSP government constructed Ambedkar Smarak, Kanshi Ram Smarak, Baudh Vidhar Shanti Upvan, Kanshi Ram eco-garden, Kanshi Ram Sanskriti sthal, Rama Bai Ambedkar sthal and
Prateek Stahl Samta Moolak Chauraha in Lucknow. The Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green Garden also came up on 33 acres in Noida.
As per government records, the total cost of these memorials was Rs 5,919 crore.