The blame game over the investment of over ₹2,600 crore of Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) employees’ provident fund in the scam-hit housing finance firm DHFL continued on Monday (November 4) with the Samajwadi Party (SP) demanding a probe by a sitting high court judge into the matter.
It also demanded that the state Energy Minister Shrikant Sharma and the department’s principal secretary be sacked. This comes two days after the state government recommended a CBI investigation into the matter.
“Investing ₹2,600 crore of employees’ provident fund in DHFL is a loot which could not have happened without knowledge of the energy minister and the principal secretary concerned,” Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Ram Govind Chaudhary told reporters.
“They should immediately be sacked and sent to jail, and a probe should be handed over to a sitting HC judge,” he added. The senior SP leader said that till they remained on their posts, an impartial probe was not possible.
The government had on Sunday claimed that the “dubious” decision was taken by the previous government headed by Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party in April 2014 and the process of investment was further carried forward in 2016. In response to this, the SP had accused the BJP of diverting public attention by blaming the party chief.
According to Energy Minister Sharma, UPPCL director (finance) Sudhanshu Dwivedi and Praveen Kumar Gupta, the then secretary of the state power employees trust and UPPCL provident fund trust, began the actual investment in the DHFL from March 2017 without bringing the matter to the knowledge of the power utility’s managing director.
Sharma said the two officials began investing the UPPCL’s EPF in the Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DHFL) despite a clearance to deposit the money for a fixed period in the Punjab National Bank (PNB). Gupta and Dwivedi have already been arrested and an FIR was registered at the Hazratganj police station in Lucknow.
Detailing chronology of the investment decision, Sharma said, “During the Akhilesh Yadav’s regime on April 21, 2014, it was decided that if there are options of getting more interest, the amount of EPF and GPF (general provident fund) can be invested there (DHFL). By taking this decision, the gates of corruption were opened (during the SP regime).”
“The process of investment was carried forward in 2016 and, on December 17, 2016, the trust’s secretary (Gupta) and UPPCL’s finance director (Dwivedi) were authorised for this,” he said. “After this, from March 2017, the process to investment of the EPF money in DHFL began.”
According to Sharma, a committee was constituted within two days after getting a complaint of the “dubious investment” on July 10 this year. The report was submitted on August 29 and the government had initiated strict action on the basis of its recommendations. The minister also pointed out that the energy department portfolio was with Yadav at that time.
“Akhilesh is trying to put our government in the dock alleging corruption, but he should reply why his government prepared the ground for corruption. Was not the entire matter going on Akhilesh’s directions?” Sharma asked. However, the SP has dubbed the allegations as “false”.
(With inputs from agencies)