News report ‘planted’, says Rijiju; opposition seeks his ouster (Roundup)

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New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) Even as Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday slammed a daily for “planting” story about his alleged involvement in a power project scam, the opposition demanded his resignation and thorough probe into the matter.

“It is a planted story. If they visit Arunachal Pradesh, they would be thrashed with shoes,” Minister of State for Home Affairs Rijiju told reporters here.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader’s comment came after a newspaper claimed that he had written letters to clear payments of contractors constructing two dams for the 600MW Kameng Hydro Electric Project in Arunachal Pradesh, being executed by the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd (Neepco).

The newspaper also quoted a report of the Chief Vigilence Officer of the Neepco, who claimed that there was a scam relating to an Arunachal Pradesh hydro project.

“Does serving people mean corruption,” Rijiju asked.

However, soon after stirring the controversy, Rijiju took to Twitter and said that the allegation was “really cheap”, and posted photographs of the letters he received from the people of Arunachal Pradesh.

“Really cheap! This is the copy of representation I received and forwarding letter to the Power Minister. Is it a corruption helping poor tribal folk?” Rijiju said.

He also said the Congress must apologise to the nation as all contract works and payments were made during its regime.

“Now the Congress must apologise to the nation. All contract works & payments were made during their regime. I just forwarded a memorandum,” he said in a series of tweets.

In a letter to Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Rijiju had requested release of pending payment for boulder transportation for the Kameng Hydro Electric Project in Arunachal Pradesh.

Meanwhile, the Congress and the Aam Admi Party (AAP) on Tuesday demanded Rijiju’s resignation for his alleged involvement in the hydro project scam.

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said: “The minister has no right to remain on his post. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who talks of transparency and honesty, should get this (Rijiju’s involvement in the scam) investigated by an independent agency.”

“Until that time, the Prime Minister should either dismiss the Minister of State or ask for his resignation.”

Surjewala also demanded an investigation against all the senior officials associated with the project.

“An unprecendeted case of corruption in a project being executed by the Neepco has come to light. There are serious facts available in public domain which indicate a scam of Rs 450 crore,” said Surjewala.

The Congress claimed that fake and inflated bills were submitted by contractors for the transportation of rocks for construction of dams and the methodology brought out by the CVO was very clear.

“Vehicles that were used for transporation for which payment worth crores of rupees was made were actually found to be carrying registration numbers of either scooters or motorcycles or cars instead of heavy trucks. Many of the vehicle numbers were found to be fake,” said Surjewala.

“All these were happening as Goboi Rijiju, Rijiju’s brother, had gone to meet the CVO. Goboi Rijiju was influencing the CVO to make and release payment of the contractors which were under question,” added Surjewala.

Quoting newspaper reports, AAP leader Ashish Khetan accused Rijiju of using his influence as a minister to help his cousin in what he called a “Rs 450-crore scam”.

“This is a serious matter. Kiren Rijiju has no right to remain a minister after being exposed in this scam. He should immediately resign from his post,” Khetan said.

He also urged the Prime Minister to order an independent probe into the alleged scam.

“We also request the Prime Minister to ensure that Rijiju and his family do not influence the probe,” he said.

–IANS

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