Buta Singh denies any role in Bagmati embankment project

New Delhi: National Commission for Scheduled Castes chairman Buta Singh on Sunday denied any involvement in the Rs 900-crore Bagmati embankment project in Bihar, claiming that its tender was awarded last year when he was not the Governor of the state.

"As per my information, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar awarded the contract for constructing embankment on Bagmati river to Hindustan Steelworks Construction Ltd, a government of India company on April 10, 2008 and it is being alleged that I siphoned off the money," Singh said while addressing a conference of SC/ST organisations in New Delhi.

Last week, Bihar government had ordered a high-level probe into the tender allotment for embankment which breached in Sitamarhi. State Water Resources Minister Virendra Yadav had said the project was given to Hindustan Steelworks Construction Limited in 2005 when Bihar was under President's Rule and Singh was the Governor of the state.

Buta had resigned as Bihar Governor in January 2006. "I was not even there. No doubt it was a Rs 900 crore project, but I have been with the NCSC since the last two years. How can I be involved in this," he said.

Referring to the probe ordered by the government, Singh said, "No lie or fraud can be bigger than levelling such allegations against a person who had helped people during the floods."

The former minister is already facing trouble following the arrest of his son by CBI for allegedly demanding bribe from a person to drop a case against him with the Commission.

Bhuta said that after Bagmati had created havoc in Bihar in 2004, soon after he had assumed office as Governor of the state, "I had personally visited the affected areas and provided relief to people.

"Soon after this I had asked the state officials to make a plan to prevent this problem and it was prepared by December 2004".

Buta Singh said that Nitish awarded the contract last year on the basis of the plan prepared and finalised in December 2004, "and then they say I siphoned off the money".

Bureau Report