UP Lokayukta to undertake sugar mill scam probe

Mayawati regime caused Rs 1,200 crore loss to state

 Facing flak from different quarters for its lackadaisical attitude towards scams during the former Mayawati regime, the Akhilesh Yadav government on Tuesday finally referred the Rs 1,200 crore sugar mill scam to the state Lokayukta for probe.

The decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet here, according to the officials.

The scam pertained to huge irregularities in the sale of 21 state-owned sugar mills, which had either been closed or running at losses to private parties in 2007, allegedly at throwaway prices, causing a loss of Rs 1,179 crore to the state exchequer.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India had also detected large-scale irregularities and said that the mills were grossly undervalued that resulted in windfall gains to the buyers. Cartel and bidding process, too, was not transparent.

The CAG, in its report, said liquor baron Ponty Chaddha, who was also linked to the cartel, had bought five mills while the rest were sold to other two parties, including a Bahujan Samaj Party parliamentarian. In the run-up to the Assembly elections early this year, the Samajwadi party had announced that it would vigorously pursue the corruption cases during the BSP regime by setting up a commission if it came to power.

However, even seven months into its rule, there was no sign of any commission prompting its detractors to launch a blistering attack on chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s commitment to fight corruption.

The new government also shocked many when it revoked the suspension of the former chief engineer of Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) Arun Kumar Mishra, who was accused of indulging in financial irregularities worth hundreds of crores. The Allahabad High Court had to intervene and asked the government to explain Mishra’s reinstatement.

According to officials, as many as 200 corruption cases were being probed in the state and in many of them, chargesheets had also been filed but the government has yet not accorded prosecution sanction in any of them.

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