Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bihar Opposition marches for CBI land scam probe


23 July 2011 / The Statesman

Manoj Chaurasia / Patna:
Opposition parties in Bihar today marched in protest to Raj Bhavan, stepping up pressure on the Nitish Kumar government to start a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into an alleged land scam.

The scam involves the illegal allotment of prime industrial plots to relatives of ministers, legislators, bureaucrats, and close aides of government officials. The Opposition alleges that the irregularities in land allotment by the Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA) are as important as the 2G spectrum and the Adarsh Housing Society scandals, and therefore deserve to be thoroughly investigated by an independent agency.

Frustrated by the government’s failure to look into their demand, hundreds of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leaders walked from the historic Gandhi Maidan to Raj Bhawan. Carrying placards and party flags, the demonstrators passed through the streets of the state capital shouting the slogans “zamin chor, gaddi chod” and “sushasan ki khul gayi pol, afsar, neta malamal”. Later, they handed over a memorandum to the Raj Bhavan, demanding a CBI inquiry.

“The irregularities in the allotment of land by BIADA are similar to the 2G spectrum scam, as the allotment procedure for both was “first come, first served”, and only an independent agency like the CBI is able to reveal the truth. We will not settle for anything less than a CBI probe”, the state assembly leader of the Opposition, Mr Abdul Bari Sidiqqui, said.

He also took a potshot at the deputy chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Mr Sushil Kumar Modi, for calling the present time, a “golden period” for Bihar. “This is indeed a "golden period"...but only for the ruling party leaders and the corrupt”, he said.

The state RJD president Mr Ramchandra Purve alleged that in 2007, the Nitish Kumar government had tweaked the rules in order to allocate BIADA land to the relatives of influential ministers and bureaucrats. He drew parallels between the scandal and the 2G spectrum scam, into which the Supreme Court has ordered a CBI probe. “If the government is not involved in the scandal, why is the chief minister reluctant to order for a CBI probe?”, he asked.

A separate delegation from Congress, led by Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Kaisar also visited the Raj Bhavan and handed over a memorandum, demanding a CBI probe.

“We equate the land scandal with that of the Adarsh Housing Society, as we believe that a number of big fish are involved in the scam”, Mr Kaisar said. He added that the party had plans to hold demonstrations in New Delhi to press for their demand.According to reports, there were large-scale irregularities in the allotment of land meant for industrial units.

The beneficiaries include Urvashi Sahi, daughter of human resources development minister Mr Prashant Kumar Shahi; Rahmat Fatima, daughter of social welfare minister Mrs Perveen Amanullah and water resources department secretary Mr Afzal Amanullah; Rahul Sharma, son of Jehanabad JD-U MP Mr Jagdish Sharma; Saurabh Agrawal, son of BJP legislator Mr Ashok Agrawal; and a close relative of senior IAS officials Mrs N Vijay Laxami and IG Prison Mr Anand Kishore. According to reports, the daughters of the human resources development minister and the social welfare minister were allotted 87,120 sq ft of land each. Mr Agrawal’s son, meanwhile, was alloted more than 15 lakh sq ft to start his own business. sns

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