The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday questioned former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati in New Delhi in connection with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam.
Sources said a team of CBI sleuths questioned Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati for over two hours at her residence in Central Delhi in connection with embezzlement of funds in implementation of the health mission. Mayawati was at the helm of affairs in Uttar Pradesh from 2007 to 2012 when the scam occurred.
“Mayawati was questioned here in connection with the NRHM scam of about Rs.10,000 crore,” said sources, adding that the agency had summoned Mayawati last month.
“Mayawati was asked to clarify the funding of some projects under NRHM in which some top officials, including the then Principal Secretary, Health, Pradeep Shukla has been charged by the agency,” sources said.
Many politicians, government officials and private people were involved in the scam.
Babu Singh Kushwaha, a former Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister during the BSP rule, was arrested on March 3, 2012 and is still languishing in jail.
Kushwaha recently moved the apex court seeking bail but his plea was dismissed on February 13, with the court saying the allegations against him were very serious and it was a “good case for dismissal”.
The agency had filed 74 cases related to the scam and has filed chargesheets in 48 cases.
As many as six people had died or were allegedly murdered in an attempt to cover up the large-scale irregularities in the case.
The issue of financial irregularities in NRHM funds came to light when the murders of two chief medical officers of family welfare — V. K. Arya in 2010 and B.P. Singh in 2011 – surfaced and deputy chief medical officer Y.S. Sachan was found dead under mysterious circumstances in the district jail of Lucknow.
The NRHM funds, to the tune of about Rs.10,000 crore, were allocated to Uttar Pradesh for 2005 to 2011 by the union health ministry.
The funds were spent through 72 chief medical officers in Uttar Pradesh and other nodal offices across the state under the various schemes approved by the central government involving a large number of beneficiaries.
A number of these works have been executed through several state PSUs and a large number of contractors and firms.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court in 2011 directed the CBI to probe the murder of Sachan and investigate the irregularities in implementation of the NRHM.
A Special Investigation Team comprising 26 investigating officers including five superintendents of police under the overall supervision of additional director, joint director and two DIGs are probing the scam.
The investigation team is also assisted by experts from banking, accountancy, engineering works and computer forensics and officers dealing with the NRHM scheme in the union health ministry.