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Gomti riverfront development scam: CBI raids over 42 places in UP

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a fresh case in connection with alleged irregularities in the ₹1,600 crore Gomti riverfront development project and are reportedly conducting raids at 42 locations in 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Ghaziabad, Lucknow and Agra.

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The project was launched in 2015 by the previous state government led by Samajwadi Party (SP) with Akhilesh Yadav as chief minister, who notably, hasn’t been named as an accused in the case. Many prominent environmentalists have pointed out that the project was seen as an interference in river systems.

Former engineers, superintending engineers and other engineers of the state’s irrigation department along with private contractors and businessmen have been named as accused, as per sources. One of the accused named in the FIR is the French company Aquatique Show.

According to the CBI, accused public servants, without obtaining due permission from the government, signed an agreement with Strasbourg-based Aquatique Show for 55.95 lakh Euros for supply and design of musical fountain water show at Gomti river.

Instead of following tender process, on quotation basis, the project was given to Aquatique Show, says the CBI.

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This is the second FIR related to the project by the premier investigation agency. The central agency had first registered a case in the scam in December 2017 on the recommendations of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Uttar Pradesh government.

A state-appointed committee under retired Allahabad High Court judge Alok Kumar Singh had indicated prima facie irregularities in the project in its report dated May 16, 2017. Out of 673 works, 12 works worth ₹ 1,031 crore were investigated by the probing agency in its first FIR. This FIR concerns 661 works worth ₹ 407 crore.

In March this year, the Uttar Pradesh government gave sanction to the CBI to prosecute former executive engineer, Lucknow Division, Sharda Canal, Roop Singh Yadav, and former junior assistant, Irrigation Works, Lucknow, Raj Kumar Yadav, for allegedly following corrupt practices during the execution of the project during the Samajwadi Party rule from 2012-2017.

Roop Singh Yadav and Raj Kumar Yadav were arrested by the CBI last year for financial irregularities in the beautification of the project.

A senior CBI official told HT in November 2020 that the probing team had recovered evidence with regard to mode and amount of payment of bribes to certain engineers, including Roop Singh Yadav. The bribes were paid to these engineers in cash by the means of withdrawing money from bank accounts or through banking transactions..

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