Akhilesh regime refuses probe into 'sugar mill loot'

Last Updated: Thu, Jun 14, 2012 11:20 hrs

Lucknow, June 14 (IANS) The Akhilesh Yadav government has decided not to press for action in the multi-crore-rupee scam involving sale of 21 sugar mills during the erstwhile Mayawati regime, five of which were taken by liquor baron Ponty Chaddha at throwaway prices. This has come as a surprise though the ruling Samajwadi Party in its election manifesto had assured of a probe into the "sugar mill loot".

Ponty Chaddha was known to be a favourite of BSP supremo and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati and is reportedly trying to patch up with the SP bosses.

On Wednesday, the SP government, in a written reply to one of its own legislator's question on the sugar mill sales, refused to hold a probe into the alleged irregularities in the sale of 21 sugar mills by the previous Mayawati government.

The Comptroller and Auditor (CAG) had also recommended a thorough probe into the alleged scam, also by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), specially the charges of money laundering. The CAG had also concluded that the state exchequer lost Rs.1,180 crore in the process.

The CAG had inferred that the sold sugar mills were under-valued by about 30 percent. It was alleged that bids were rigged through cartelisation in favour of liquor baron Ponty Chadha who, at the end, purchased five sugar mills at throwaway prices.

The refusal of the government to hold a probe into the alleged irregularities came in response to a question by SP legislator Ravidas Mehrotra in the state assembly Wednesday.

In a written reply to a question by Mehrotra, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said the question of a probe does not arise; and to a supplementary whether any irregularities were found in the sale process, he said: "The mills were sold as per guidelines of the infrastructure department after due commissioning of four independent valuers to determine their prices."

Mehrotra felt his question had not been answered and has sought time to meet the chief minister. "I had asked something else and have been replied something else. The molasses in these sugar mills was sold at a pittance... a probe should be done," he said.

A senior SP leader, who wished not to be named, pointed out that the SP in its manifesto had also mentioned about the "sugar mill loot" and had assured that a probe would be held.

"What to say now, this is sad and a loss of face for us," he added.

State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohd Azam Khan, however, said the chief minister was within his rights to say no to a demand for probe based on present assessment but added that the CAG report would be studied in detail and that the matter was before the Allahabad High Court.

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