The Modi government’s refrain for a corruption-free India seems to be interrupted as many of its high-profile ministers are being linked to financial irregularities - directly and indirectly.
While a large section of the national media remained silent over alleged misallocation of MPLAD funds involving Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani, Gujarat High Court had demanded an explanation from the state government on July 27.
The BJP-led government not only tried to cover up the whole issue but has defied the court’s order too. More than one and a half months have passed but the state government has not submitted its reply in the court which it was supposed to do within a week.
Congress MLA from Anklav Assembly seat Amit Chavda has alleged that Smriti Irani was involved in misallocating funds sanctioned for developmental work in her adopted village of Maghrol. Seeking a judicial probe, he has filed a PIL in Gujarat High Court and demanded that an FIR be lodged against Irani.
Talking to National Herald over phone, Chavda said that the High Court had sent a notice to the state government seeking reply but the government has not responded yet.Referring to a CAG report, Chavad alleged that the minister was fully aware of the misallocation/irregularities in awarding contracts and works in her adopted village.
“What I said, was based on the CAG report. CAG in its report categorically stated that a contract worth of ₹ 80 lakh was awarded to Sharda Majoor Kamdar Sahkari Mandli (SMKSM) after Irani’s intervention. I have demanded a thorough investigation against the minister,” he added.
According to the norms/guidelines 1) a minister cannot directly award contract to one group /company. It has to go through the District Planning Officer 2) Contract worth more than ₹ 50 lakh cannot be given to one group, while in this case contract worth ₹ 80 lakh was awarded to SMKSM.
It is important to note that Gujarat CAG has also questioned the role of the government/minister in distribution of the MPLAD funds.“Irani has misappropriated and misused large scale of funds and grants received under MPLAD for public welfare through fraud and complete subterfuge,” submitted the Congress leader in his PIL.
The PIL also stressed on the fact that the Anand District Collector had written a letter dated June 20, 2017 to Deputy Secretary of General Administration Department (GAD) pointing out irregularities and fraud being committed in the grants received from MPLAD funds.
Local media reported that SMKSM got work contracts worth ₹ 1.23 crore though it did not complete the projects. Misallocation and misappropriation of the funds continued from 2014-15 to 2016-17. The District Planning Officer was quoted as saying that works were awarded to SSMKSM as per instruction received from Irani’s PA over phone.
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