Congress' Jairam Ramesh Blasts PM Modi Ahead Of I-Day

The Congress leader, citing the CAG report, mentioned how the CAG has flagged an overall cost overrun of more than 100 per cent in the Bharatmala Pariyojana.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh

A day ahead of Independence Day celebrations across the country, senior Congress leader and the head of the party's communications wing, Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi based on the recent Comprtroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report which flagged several discrepancies in the Centre's spending of public funds.

Jairam Ramesh released a statement where he said that PM Modi is all set to release a barrage of lies from the dias while speaking at the Red Fort on the occasion of Independence Day on August 15.

In the statement, Ramesh said, "Tomorrow, the Prime Minister will unleash his torrent of lies from the ramparts of the Red Fort for one last time, taking off from his tsunami of lies to the nation in the Parliament last week. But will he have the courage to question his own government and his ministers on their corruption and incompetence?"

The Congress leader, citing the CAG report, mentioned how the CAG has flagged an overall cost overrun of more than 100 per cent in the Bharatmala Pariyojana. This project was approved and monitored by none other than the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the PM himself, he added.

He further highlighted that the sanctioned cost of the 26,316 kilometers of highways that were awarded was Rs 8,46,588 crores, against the CCEA-approved length of 34,800 kilometers at a cost of Rs 5,35,000 crores. “This means that these projects were awarded at a cost of Rs 32.17 crore/km, more than double the cost of Rs 15.37 crore/km approved by the CCEA. Despite multiple cost overruns, only 13,499 km of national highways have been completed till 31 March 2023, less than 39% of the CCEA-approved length,” said Jairam Ramesh.

The Congress leader said that the CAG report also raised concerns about the inflated project cost of the Dwarka Expressway, which went up 14 times from the sanctioned Rs 18 crore per kilometer to Rs 250 crore per kilometer.

He said, “CAG has also highlighted irregularities in the Bharatmala bidding process successful bidders not fulfilling tender condition, bidders being selected on the basis of falsified documents, work awarded without approved detailed project reports or faulty DPRS and the diversion of funds to the tune of Rs 3,598.52 crore from escrow accounts. Will the Prime Minister take responsibility for this incompetence and corruption in the Bharatmala projects under his direct watch?”

“CAG has uncovered violations of toll rules, with NHAI wrongly collecting Rs 132.05 crore from commuters in just 5 randomly audited toll plazas. At the same time, NHAI lost revenue of Rs 133.36 crore due to lack of provision for revenue sharing in concession agreements in two sections of NH projects. If this audit were extrapolated to the whole country, the overall loss to the exchequer and the commuters would amount to lakhs of crores. Will the Prime Minister take action against the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways?” added Jairam Ramesh.

Furthermore, the CAG report also highlighted payouts to people who had died in the Prime Minister’s Ayushman Bharat Scheme, said Ramesh, highlighting that 88,760 patients had died during treatment yet the number of claims were 2,14,923 in respect of ‘fresh treatments’ given to ‘dead patients’.

“Other than that, 7.5 lakh recipients were linked to a single mobile number and 4,761 registrations made against seven Aadhar numbers. In total there are more than 1.24 crore fake beneficiaries linked to only 1,86,855 mobile numbers. Will the Prime Minister order an investigation on who were the real beneficiaries of this massive Digital India scam in Ayushman Bharat?” the Congress leader asked.

Meanwhile, the CAG has raised questions on the irregularities in the Ayodhya Development Project and the diversion of old page pension funds under the National Social Assistance Programme for publicity of the Modi government’s schemes instead.

“We demand answers from the Prime Minister, Chuppi Todiye, Pradhan Mantri-ji!” stated Jairam Ramesh.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh
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