Uttarakhand’s newly appointed Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Thursday said that he would seek a legal opinion on the scope of the CBI investigation into the major NH 74 land acquisition scam. This move by the CM has come two months after his decision to launch a probe in the acquisition of farmland scam in the Udham Singh Nagar district for the widening of NH 74. Trivendra Singh Rawat on Thursday attended a meeting with Union Minister Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) chairman Yudhvir Singh Malik after which he decided that he would seek a legal opinion on the scope. He also said that both Yudhvir Singh Malik and Nitin Gadkari believed in zero tolerance against corruption, according to an Indian Express report.
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He said, “Does not matter if one is from the NHAI or the state, the guilty will be punished. The NHAI chief, however, explained to me that the Authority’s role in land acquisition is only as a fund-disbursing agency. So, we will seek legal opinion — from the attorney general, if necessary — on the scope of the CBI probe.” In March, after being appointed as the Chief Minister, Rawat sought CBI probe into the alleged scam and in a press conference, he said, “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.”
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari in a letter to the Uttrakhand CM warned him and also mentioned that he was “greatly concerned about recent developments in the state.” He said, the probe “would have an adverse impact on the morale of the officers”, he further added, “would have to re-examine the usefulness for taking up more projects in the state.” He wrote, “Firstly, a 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.”