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After Taj corridor, it's Taj expressway
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow |
September 26, 2003 21:17 IST
Even as the Rs 175 crore [approximately US $38.21 million] Taj heritage corridor scandal continues to make the headlines, the Uttar Pradesh government today ordered a judicial inquiry into the Rs 2,500 crore [$545.85 million] Taj expressway project initiated by the ousted Bahujan Samaj Party-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition led by Mayawati earlier this year.
Chief Secretary A P Singh told a press conference in Lucknow on Friday evening: "The government has decided to appoint retired high court judge S R Misra to inquire into the controversy surrounding the project."
Justice Misra has been given two months to complete the inquiry.
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The proposed eight-lane Taj expressway linking New Delhi and Agra was being constructed by Jaypee Industries. Not only was the land for the entire stretch given free to Jaypee Industries, the Mayawati government also waived the stamp duty of about Rs 50 crore [$10.92 million] for the deal.
As a special favour, the contractor was also given exclusive rights to raise commercial hubs at different points along the expressway. A couple of five-star hotels were proposed along the route.
Mayawati's opponents allege that she and some of her favourite bureaucrats got large chunks of prime land at various strategic locations along the route transferred in their names.