Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Thursday said nobody will be spared in the alleged Rs 240 crore national highway scam in the state and stressed that the government may take a legal opinion on how to move forward on the issue.
His statement comes two months after announcing his decision to seek a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into an alleged scam in the acquisition of farmland in Udham Singh Nagar district for the widening of NH 74.
Uttarakhand government has already written to the Centre asking for a CBI probe into the corruption in acquisition of land for the national highway.
Talking to reporters after meeting Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, Rawat said, "We have a policy of zero tolerance against corruption. The minister (Gadkari) has also said that nobody should be spared if found guilty whether they are NHAI and state officials."
Senior National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials were also present on the occasion.
Rawat said NHAI officials have told him that they had no role in the scam.
They said the fund is provided by the Authority but it is disbursed by the district committees, the chief minister said.
"If required the state government may take a legal opinion (how to go forward on the issue)," Rawat said.
NHAI chairman Y S Malik had raised the issue of harassment at the hands of CBI officials which was impacting the highway works in the state, a source said.
Gadkari had last month written to Rawat, warning him that a CBI probe into the alleged scam “would have an adverse impact on the morale of the officers” and the ministry “would have to re-examine the usefulness for taking up more projects in the state,” an Indian Express report said.
In a press conference Wednesday, Rawat had said that irregularities worth Rs 240 crore have been detected in the acquisition of farmland for the purpose of the proposed NH-74 in Udham Singh Nagar district between 2011-2016.
Farmland was shown as non-agricultural land to increase the compensation amount by at least 20 times to benefit chosen stakeholders and beneficiaries, he had said.
Terming it a "major scam", Rawat had said that he has sent his recommendations to the Centre for a CBI probe into the irregularities.
Six senior officials have been suspended over their suspected role in the scam.
In a letter on April 5, Gadkari wrote, "Firstly, an FIR was launched by the district administration of Udham Singh Nagar in the matter of awards finalised by CALA (SLAO), who is a revenue functionary of the state government. Not only that, a CBI inquiry has also been ordered by the government of Uttarakhand on the matter in which the NHAI officers are being investigated."
Gadkari warned that these “actions by the government of Uttarakhand are bound to have adverse impact on the morale of the officers and would impede implementation of projects”.
“In this background, we would have to re-examine the usefulness for taking up more projects in the state. I am certain you will appreciate the significance of the issues that I have pointed out and take immediate corrective measures to resolve the impasse,” the minister wrote.