CITY Ex-MLA alleges 500cr streetlight scam, moves Madras HC for vigilance probe TNN

Ex-MLA alleges 500cr streetlight scam, moves Madras HC for vigilance probe
TNN | Updated: Nov 8, 2020, 13:34 IST

Madras high court

CHENNAI: M Appavu, a former MLA, has moved the Madras high court alleging a 500 crore scam in replacing 23.72 lakh streetlights in village panchayats across the state with LED lights. Accusing local administration minister SP Velumani of resorting to illegalities, he wanted the court to direct the directorate of vigilance and anti-corruption (DVAC) to register an FIR against the minister.
LED lights priced at 450 each in open market were purchased at an exorbitant cost of 3,737 each, and lights worth 1,550 each were bought for 14,919 each, Appavu alleged.
According to his affidavit, maintenance of street lights comes under the direct control of the village panchayat concerned. However, bypassing the same, Velumani, by abusing his power, constituted a state level committee which tool over the task and floated tenders for procurement of the lights.
Claiming that from 2015 to 2018 a total of 969 crore had been allotted for the purpose in three phases, the petitioner said, “Out of 969 crore, 400 crore was apportioned from the funds received from 14th Finance Commission, 300 crore from state finance commission and 200 crore the capital grant fund intended for rural local bodies fund.”
In addition to this, 69.32 crore was appropriated from the district and panchayat union funds, he added.
As per panchayat raj system, funds allotted from the union finance commission can be utilised only by the elected village panchayat presidents concerned. Neither the state government nor any second party authority have jurisdiction to interfere in the administration of financial power of village panchayats, he said.
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However, the minister by constituting the committee usurped such powers of village panchayat and managed to allot the tenders to his ‘benamis and shell companies,’ the petitioner alleged. Since the DVAC has not acted upon his complaint dated July 15 against the minister, he has moved the present petition.

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