Lucknow: Trouble seems to be mounting for Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav ahead of the Lok Sabha polls as the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday conducted multiple searches across various states in connection with its money laundering probe into the Rs 1,500 crore Gomti riverfront development project in Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow.

Raids were being carried out in various premises of the accused and their associates in Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow and Noida), Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan, by a team of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials assisted by local police.

The central probe agency had filed a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in this instance in March last year. The ED case was filed after taking cognisance of a CBI FIR.

The CBI had taken over the investigation after the present Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh ordered an inquiry into the beautification project of the Gomti river front.

The project was carried out by the previous Samajwadi Party (SP) dispensation.

The Uttar Pradesh government had asked for an investigation into irregularities committed with a “criminal intent” in the implementation of the Gomti River Channelisation Project and the Gomti River Front Development by the state’s Department of Irrigation.

The CBI had filed an FIR against then chief engineers Gulesh Chandra, S N Sharma, Qazim Ali, then superintendent engineers Mangal Yadav, Akhil Raman, Kamaleshwar Singh, Roop Singh Yadav and executive engineer Surendra Yadav.

Gulesh Chandra, Mangal Yadav, Akhil Raman and Roop Singh Yadav have retired.

The state government had constituted a committee under retired Allahabad High Court judge Alok Kumar Singh, which had indicated prima facie irregularities in the project in its report dated May 16, 2017.

Illegal Mining Case: Akhilesh Cleared 13 Projects on a Single Day, Claims CBI; BSP, Congress, AAP Back SP Chief

Illegal Mining Case: Akhilesh Cleared 13 Projects on a Single Day, Claims CBI; BSP, Congress, AAP Back SP Chief

The Uttar Pradesh Police had registered a case on June 19 on the basis of this report.

The state government subsequently sought a CBI probe into the matter in July 2017.

The Centre referred the matter to the CBI on November 24, 2017 on the basis of which the agency took over the investigation in the matter.

The development comes days after the CBI conducted raids at several locations in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi in connection with the illegal mining during Akhilesh Yadav-led government’s tenure.

According to the CBI officials, Akhilesh Yadav as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh granted lease of mines to 14 people in 2013 in Hamirpur district against the Allahabad High Court orders which had ratified the e-tender policy.

Yadav had questioned the timing of the raids as they came on the same day when SP formed an alliance with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

“Samajwadi Party is making efforts to win maximum Lok Sabha seats. Those who want to stop us have the CBI with them. Once the Congress did CBI probe, and I was questioned. If the BJP is doing all this, the CBI will question me, I will answer (them). But, the people are ready to give an answer to the BJP,” Yadav said.

The BJP, however, said the timing of the investigations had nothing to do with elections. “Akhilesh Yadav cannot loot and now complain against investigation. You indulge in corruption and now law is taking its course,” UP health minister Sidharth Nath Singh said.