Suspicion of land conversion scam leads to probe into Akhilesh Yadav’s pet project

Agra Lucknow expressway is a 302 KM, 6 lane expressway which was touted by Akhilesh Yadav as his dream project. The authorities had scrambled to complete the expressway before the elections but it ended up getting inaugurated before it was actually complete.

This expressway was supposed to be a ticket to electoral success for Akhilesh and his legacy to Uttar Pradesh. While the former didn’t work out, even the latter might be tarnished as a probe has been ordered for alleged land conversion scam involving the land which was acquired for this project.

According to a report, the expressway has come under the Yogi Government’s scanner after some farmland which was to be acquired for this project, was passed off as residential land to acquire higher compensation.

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The matter pertains to a Bachela-Bacheli village near Firozabad where the land owners allegedly forged documents and in collusion with the officials had shown the plot as residential in the sale deed in July 2012 and then got it registered as residential in the land records in April 2014.

The government had issued notifications for acquiring the land in October and December 2013. This up-gradation of land ensured that the State government had to shell out an additional compensation of Rs 3.29 crores.

After complaints about discrepancies, the additional district magistrate (revenue)’s inquiry confirmed that these were indeed farming plots. This has resulted in the booking of 5 revenue officials and 22 villagers.

After this case has come to light, the Yogi government has directed 10 District Magistrates to probe all land deals done in the last 18 months in about 230 villages.

If this land conversion scam isn’t a one off case then probe can open a can of worms as about 3500 hectares of land has been purchased from 20,456 farmers for this project.

This isn’t the only controversy which has cropped up in relation with this expressway. During campaigning, Yogi had alleged that the expressway had resulted in a scam of billions. He had alleged that on one hand NHAI was spending about Rs 16-17 crores for a kilometer of highway construction, on the other hand the Akhilesh government had ended up spending Rs 31-32 crores per KM.

There are other projects of the Akhilesh government which are also under the scanner.

The Yogi government has ordered a probe in Akhilesh’s Gomti river front project for financial irregularities. It has been reported that initially a sum of Rs 656 crores was approved for the project which was revised to Rs 1153 crores. But even after such an escalation, 95% of the funds have been utilized but only 60% of the work could be completed.

It was also reported that the Rs 416-crore Janeshwar Mishra Park and the Rs 864-crore Jai Prakash Narayan International Convention Centre in Lucknow built during the Akhilesh regime, could also have cost only 1/4th of the total price. Certain inflated items for these two projects have emerged, like the national flag cost 1.38 crores, imported boats cost 16 lakh and grass cost 38 lakh.


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