Congress walkout over corruption charges

Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Friday witnessed a walkout by the opposition Congress over the large-scale corruption in the White Tiger Safari said to be the first of its kind in the world in Satna District’s Mukundpur. During a calling attention notice of Sunderlal Tiwari, Jitu Patwari and Sukhendra Singh Banna (All Congress), Forest Minister Gauri Shankar Shejwar admitted that corruption took place in the project and the government rules and regulations were not followed properly in construction work of the Safari, which is slated to be dedicated on Sunday by Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.
The Minister also gave information about slapping of charge-sheet against the then official but the Congress members was not satisfied and demanded to return the embezzled funds and a Lokayukta investigation into the graft case.
In his notice, Tiwari gave the reference of a letter of the then District Forest Officer (DFO) of 2012 which said the DFO had made payment on the behest of the then Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) and even after three years, no action was initiated against the CCF. He alleged that Rs 13 crore was siphoned off and demanded to recover the money from the CCF.
The Minister said a lawyer of Delhi had lodged complaint about the irregularities. Then an official was appointed to probe into the case. He submitted the report after which a charge-sheet was slapped against the CCF and the reply of the charge-sheet also received.
He said over 24.65 crore were paid and there was no complaint about the quality of the work. He admitted that officials made mistakes to complete the work in a hurry and action was taken against them also.
Shejwar claimed that stringent action was being taken against the accused even before opposition’s demand and proper action would be initiated against the persons if they were found guilty.
The Minister said a departmental inquiry would be conducted first and if needed, other investigations would be ordered. Even after the reply from the Minister, the Congress members were not satisfied and continued to demand action against the officer and a Lokayukta probe, and finally the Congress members, led by Deputy Leader of the Opposition Bala Bachchan, staged a walkout.
The White Tiger Safari, said to be the first of its kind in the world, where zoo, safari, rescue centre and breeding centre would be at one place.