A Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the alleged Rs 300 crore scam in the procurement of land for the National Highway 74 in Udham Singh Nagar district today questioned former state Congress president Kishore Upadhyay, sources said. The Congress leader was questioned for over an hour by a two-member SIT team regarding allegations that part of the compensation package for the procurement of land from farmers for widening of NH-74 was used in the party's campaigning activities for Assembly elections held in the state last year, sources added. The irregularities in question had taken place during the erstwhile Congress regime in the state and Upadhayay was at the helm of the state party unit at the time, they said, adding that the party had allegedly opened several bank accounts to route part of the land compensation money to fund its election expenses. Asked about the matter, Upadhyay said he had told the SIT that he would answer all of their queries only after they served him a legal notice. The scam had came to the forefront in an investigation by then Kumaon Commissioner D Senthil Pandiyan. Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, after coming to power in the state in March 2017, took cognisance of the issue, suspended six state-level officers and recommended a CBI probe into it. However, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari had advised the state government against it, saying that a CBI probe would have an adverse impact on the morale of NHAI officials. This prompted opposition Congress to allege that the BJP governments, both in the state and at the Centre, were unwilling to have the scam investigated by the agency in an attempt to save the 'big fish' involved in the alleged irregularities. Later, the state government formed an SIT to look into the matter.
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