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Virbhadra Singh CBI Raid case: Everything you need to know

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Why did the CBI raid Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s private residence, Holly Lodge in Shimla, and 12 other places on September 26?

SHIMLA- The CBI is investigating allegations that Virbhadra Singh, as union Minister for Steel and, subsequently, Minister for MSME in the UPA 2 government between 2009 and 2012, acquired an illegal income and assets worth Rs 6.1 crore. He allegedly invested the unexplained income in single-premium LIC polices through one Anand Chauhan, who opened an account in Punjab National Bank’s Shimla branch and deposited nearly Rs 5 crore in cash, before routing the money into the LIC policies. Chauhan was also the manager of Singh’s Shrikhand apple orchard in Shimla district during the same period. The CBI registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) against Singh, his wife Pratibha Singh, their son Vikramaditya Singh, daughter Aparajita Kumari, and LIC agent Chauhan in June 2015. On September 23, the CBI converted the PE into a regular case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and the raids followed.

What other allegations does the Chief Minister face?

In 2012, Virbhadra Singh filed revised Income-Tax Returns for the years 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, which showed massive increases in his incomes from the apple orchard. The income of Rs 7.35 lakh for 2009-10 rose to Rs 2.21 crore; for 2010-11, Rs 15 lakh increased to Rs 2.80 crore; and for 2011-12, the income of Rs 25 lakh increased to Rs 1.55 crore. Following complaints, the Income-Tax Department sent a notice to the CM, asking him to explain the increases. Singh currently faces I-T investigations and a case in the Income-Tax Tribunal, a money-laundering investigation by the Enforcement Directorate, and a case in the Himachal Pradesh High Court.

How, when did the allegations surface?

During the Assembly elections of 2012, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was then Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, confronted Singh with the alleged facts of the cases. He released details of Singh’s revised I-T returns, which showed the huge increases in his orchard incomes, and of the temporary PNB account opened by Anand Chauhan to make investments on behalf of Singh and his family. Jaitley also accused Singh of forgery and money laundering, and subsequently wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seeking a probe. Singh filed a defamation suit against Jaitley, but withdrew it later.

In 2013, advocate and activist Prashant Bhushan filed a public interest lawsuit in Delhi High Court on behalf of the NGO Common Cause, alleging that the CBI had not probed the charges of corruption against Singh. This PIL is pending in the court. The next hearing is on October 14, when CBI is supposed to inform the court whether a case for lodging an FIR is made out.

Did the CM anticipate the CBI’s action?

At a meeting of the state cabinet two days before the raids, Transport Minister G S Bali alerted Singh about CBI investigators closing in on him. The Chief Minister asked all 11 ministers to sign a statement backing him. In their joint statement, the ministers accused the Centre of bringing false charges against Singh, and of misusing the CBI. Investigators showed up on the day Minakshi Kumari, the youngest of the Chief Minister’s four daughters from his first wife, was getting married. It was a quiet family affair at a local temple, about which many from even the Chief Minister’s party were unaware. The CM and his family were at home when the CBI arrived. On Monday, Virbhadra Singh’s lawyers sought a copy of the CBI FIR, but withdrew the application on Wednesday. Later on Wednesday, however, the CM moved the Himachal Pradesh High Court against the CBI.

How have the Chief Minister and his party reacted to the CBI raids?

Virbhadra Singh has not issued any detailed public statement so far. On September 27, he put out two tweets, saying, “I was on the way to Temple for my daughters marriage ceremony when I encountered with the CBI Team outside my house at Shimla”, and “I proceeded to the wedding ceremony, opened my house doors to the CBI & asked them to check what they want, as I have nothing to hide”. The Congress Legislature Party — 36 MLAs in a House of 68 — has thrown its weight behind him; his rival in the party, Anand Sharma, too has backed the CM. On Thursday, Congress MLAs led by veteran leader Vidya Stokes are scheduled to meet President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi to submit a three-page memorandum apprising him of the CBI raids. The Congress memorandum is likely to accuse the Centre of unfairly targeting Virbhadra Singh while ignoring the allegations of corruption and impropriety against BJP Chief Ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vasundhara Raje and Raman Singh.

How will the CBI raids impact the CM politically?

There is currently no challenge to his leadership. Singh has been a mass leader — one who has fought his way to the Chief Minister’s job in the face of opposition from the Congress leadership in 1993, 2003 and 2012. In 2012, it was the Congress’s compulsion to give him charge, even though he had had to resign from the union ministry only a few months earlier. The charges against him this time are, however, serious. What the CBI tells Delhi High Court in its status report will be crucial.

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Rs 2572 crore for Himachal’s irrigation and drinking water schemes

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HP irrigation and drinking water schemes

Shimla: The State Government today said that it has earmarked an amount of Rs 2572 crore for providing irrigation and drinking water facilities in Himachal Pradesh during the current financial year.

The endeavour, the Government said, was to bring more area under irrigation facility so that farmers could go for crop diversification instead of traditional crops.

The Chief Minister, while addressing a public meeting at Kelodhar in Seraj assembly constituency of Mandi district, provided the information.It is Chief Minister’s first visit to Kelodhar after elections.

Further, it was announced that the Kandha-Bah-Batand road would be strengthened.

Earlier, the Chief Minister performed ‘bhumi pujan’ of Kandha-Bah-Batand road (Phase-II) to be constructed at a cost of Rs. 358.53 lakh.

He laid the foundation stones of IPH Office building and residence at Kelodhar to be constructed at a cost of Rs. 74.36 lakh and of Science Block building of Government Senior Secondary School Kelodhar on which about Rs 1.50 crore would be spent.

The Government announced Rs 15 lakh for Kelodhar Panchayat for various developmental works, Rs 10 lakh each for GP Bara, GP Saroha and GP Parwara. He also announced Rs 3 lakh for Mahila Mandal Kelodhar.

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British-era Bantony Castle Shimla to become Rs. 25 crore cultural centre     

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Bantony Castle Shimla Picture

CM said the building is also an example of beautiful anglo-gothic architecture. However, this fact appears to be incorrect as the Castle is built in the mock-Tudor style

Shimla: As a ray of hope for the Bantony Castle, Shimla, the Himachal Pradesh Government has announced Rs. 25 crores for the renovation of the British-era structure in order to develop as a tourist attraction.

This was stated by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur while inaugurating the five-day long State level Gram Shilp Mela which was organized by the State Language Art and Culture Department here on May 17, 2018.

Bantony Castle is one of the historic and monumental buildings of Shimla town and has a very rich history. spread over around 20,000 square meter area between Circular Road and Mall Road.

The Chief Minister said the building is also an example of beautiful anglo-gothic architecture. However, this fact appears to be incorrect as the Castle is built in the mock-Tudor style, part chalet and crowned with sloping roofs with mini-towers.

Nevertheless, he further said that since this building was strategically located on the Mall Road thus could be an added attraction for the tourists.

 This complex as a whole would be developed in such a way that it not only becomes a tourist attraction but also a centre of rich cultural diversity of the State.  

The previous Congress Government had, in 2017, announced that it will be turned into a Heritage museum with a restaurant and recreational park.

Artisans from different parts of the State received an opportunity to exhibit their artefacts at the Gram Shipi Mela. The government said it would also organize District level Gram Shilp Melas besides Inter-state Gram Shilp Melas to promote the artefacts of the State.

It was further informed that the State Government has announced a new scheme named ‘Aaj Purani Rahon Se’ for exploring folklores, historic events and cultural tourism in the State. The government has also decided to introduce miniaturized cultural souvenirs of Himachal Pradesh such as musical instruments, Chamba Rumal, Kangra paintings etc.

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Will tar 1100 km roads, construct 600 km new motorable roads, 750 km cross drainage, 35 bridges in 2018: HP Govt

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HP PWD target for 2018

Shimla: During review meeting of Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department held today, the Government informed that it has set up a target of construction of 600 km new motorable roads, providing cross drainage facilities on 750 km road length, metalling and tarring of 1100 km roads, construction of 35 bridges and providing road connectivity to 40 villages during the current financial year.

The Government said all the formalities regarding the allocation of road and bridge projects would be completed within a stipulated period to facilitate work- allocation within 51 days to concerned executing agencies.  

The e-tendering is expected to speed up the process of allocation of projects.

It has been felt that delay in Forest clearances was one of the major bottlenecks for starting of different road and bridge projects. Therefore, the Government would take up the matter with the Union Government to expedite forest clearances for these projects,

said the Chief Minister, who was presiding over the meeting.

It was informed that the target has been fixed to execute 414 works with a total length of 2400 km, under PMGSY with an outlay of Rs 600 crore during the current financial year.

On completion, 150 habitations would be connected with roads. Similarly, the target has been fixed to complete 209 works under Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF)-NABARD, which include 77 works in Shimla zone, 20 in Mandi Zone, 70 in Kangra zone and 4 in Hamirpur Zone, it was informed.

HPPWD review meeting 2018

During HPPWD review meeting 2018

It was informed that that out of 90 black spots identified in the State, 58 had been rectified and work on remaining black spots was in progress.

The State Government has allocated Rs. 200 crore for maintenance and repair of roads in the State besides Rs. 50 crore additionality for providing drainage facilities on the roads, claimed the Government.

Additional Chief Secretary Manisha Nanda said that 34394 officers and officials were working in the Public Works Department and “were doing their best” to ensure best road connectivity to the people of the State.  

The State today has total 35638 km of roads providing road connectivity to the remotest part of the State, informed the Engineer-in-Chief R.P Verma.

Opposed to the work-culture of the HP PWD, the Chief Minister, who holds Department, is claiming that regular monitoring and inspection of roads and bridges constructed particularly under NABARD, Central Road Fund etc. will be ensured.

 He said that for this, standard quality parameters should be laid down and responsibility of the defaulters must be fixed and strict action taken against the person, which rarely happens.

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