When the BJP government came to power in UP, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had called the River Front Project, taken up by the previous Akhilesh Yadav government to spruce up both sides of the Gomti river, a colossal waste of money. He had ordered an enquiry. But strangely enough, his government has now refused to make the findings of the enquiry report public.
RTI activist Nutan Thakur had sought documents related to the formation of the Judicial Enquiry Commission in the River Front Project along with the Enquiry report and the action taken on it. But the government refused to provide finding of the enquiry report as well as the basis on which the judicial commission was formed.
VN Tiwari, Section Officer, Irrigation and Water Resource department ,denied to disclose the information, saying that since action in the irregularities of the project is in the process, the report cannot be provided as per provisions of section 8(h) of the RTI Act.
According to Nutan Thakur, the state government’s stand is not correct because section 8(h) is applicable only to criminal investigation and not administrative enquiries. It gives an impression that something is being concelaed in the matter, she feels.
“If the government says that River Front Project is nothing but a waste of money then what is preventing the CM to make the probe report public,” Nutun Thakur asked.
On April 2, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had ordered a judicial probe into alleged irregularities committed in the Gomti River Front Project. He ordered the probe after carrying out an inspection of the project. “People’s money cannot be allowed to be looted at any cost,” he had said in a tweet.
The government has constituted a three-member committee headed by retired Allahabad High Court Judge Alok Kumar Singh to probe the matter. AK Garg, Professor of the Finance at IIM-Lucknow and retired Professor of riverine engineering at IIT-BHU, UK Chaudhary were part of the committee too.
Initially, the cost of the project was estimated at ₹ 656 crore but it was raised to ₹1153 crore. Of this, 1433 crore has already been given to the executing agency which spent ₹1427 crore while only 60 per cent of the project was completed.
Questions were raised as to why 60 per cent of the work was completed when 90 per cent of the money has been already spent. Yogi Adityanath even said that “excessive amount of money” was spent on “non-essential works” instead of utilising the funds for making the river free from pollution.
There were also allegations that the former Samajwadi Party government did not follow the “laid down procedure” in carrying out the works.
Alleging that the previous government was not serious about cleanliness of the Gomti river, the CM had also said that the project be merged with the Centre’s much-touted ‘Namami Gange’ scheme.