Uttar Pradesh engineer owns assets worth Rs.100 crore

By Sharat Pradhan, IANS
Saturday, February 26, 2011

LUCKNOW - Simultaneous raids over the past three days by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at more than half a dozen cities across India have unearthed immovable properties worth about Rs.100 crore owned by an Uttar Pradesh government chief engineer, officials said Saturday.

According to CBI sources, Arun Misra, posted as the chief engineer with U.P. State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC), was found to be the owner of nearly a dozen properties in Lucknow, Kanpur, Dehradun, Ghaziabad, Noida, Kolkata and New Delhi. Some benami bank accounts were also held by him in Haridwar with crores of rupees clandestinely transferred to them.

The raids followed his involvement in a multi-crore hawala and benami bank account transaction being investigated by the CBI. The investigation agency got leads to Misra’s involvement while carrying out investigation in a major underhand operation involving some employees of the Punjab National Bank.

The engineer was found to have minted all his unaccounted wealth through sale of industrial plots in TRONICA city near Greater Noida.

The scam was exposed by the then UPSIDC managing director Balwinder Kumar in 2007, who got cracking from the very first day of assuming office.

What was unearthed turned out to be a Rs.300-crore land scam, allegedly carried out not only by a handful of petty departmental officials, but also with the active connivance of at least two Indian Administrative Service officers close to expelled Samajwadi Party leader and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s man Friday Amar Singh.

Kumar, who is now posted as principal secretary of the state’s social welfare department, told IANS Saturday: “A very cursory look into the land allotment files of TRONICA city near Great Noida aroused suspicion. Just as we went deeper, it was like opening a can of worms.”

Initially only four heads rolled, including regional manager A.K. Trivedi, accounts manager S.R. Arun, project officer V.C. Tomar and chief project manager A.K. Asthana.

Chief engineer Arun Misra, believed to be the kingpin of the racket, managed to save his skin.

The entire procedure adopted for allotment of bulk land both for industrial and housing projects was allegedly “tailor made” for certain pre-determined beneficiaries.

According to a report submitted to the government by Kumar, the modus operandi was quite smooth.

“It began with release of advertisement for auction of land only in newspapers that were hardly in circulation in Uttar Pradesh. On top of that, the size and format of the advertisement was so insignificant and obscure that it was intended to go unnoticed, so that the auction bids would remain confined only to a select few,” the report said.

“The stage-managed auction caused losses to the tune of at least Rs.200 crore to the corporation,” alleged Kumar.

“After all, the highest bid for group housing plots touched a paltry Rs.3,825 per sq metre while that of industrial and commercial plots did not go beyond Rs.6,731 sq metres, as against an estimated market worth (by TRONICA City Manufacturers’ Association) of Rs.12,000-17,000 per sq metre and Rs.25,000-30,000 per sq metre, respectively,” the report added.

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