The CBI Wednesday raided about 60 places across Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, including the premises of former minister Babu Singh Kushwaha and his associates, in an effort to unravel the multi-crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam.
Expelled from the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh last November, Kushwaha Tuesday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"The CBI registered five new cases on Monday in connection with the NRHM in Uttar Pradesh. Searches are being conducted today (Wednesday) in 60 locations across Uttar Pradesh and in Delhi," said a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) statement released in Delhi.
According to CBI sources, many houses and commercial establishments owned by Kushwaha and his associates, including legislator Ram Chandra Pradhan, were raided by separate CBI teams in 12 districts, including Lucknow, Kanpur, Moradabad, Ghaziabad and Agra.
The residence and offices of the owners of the recently floated Hindi daily Jan Sandesh were also raided. The office of the daily is in a 12,000 sq ft. premises in Lucknow's prime commercial hub, Hazratganj.
Sources said Kushwaha's 'benami' properties in Mumbai were also under the scanner. The cases were registered on the directions of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court. The court has fixed a time frame of four months for completion of the entire probe.
The CBI is also investigating the murder of three chief medical officers who were closely linked with the implementation of the NHRM, between 2009-2011.
Kushwaha was the minister handling health and family welfare and was removed in April following his alleged involvement in the financial bunglings in the NHRM. He was expelled from the party in November.
"The enquiry and investigation in this matter is continuing," the CBI statement said.
The CBI said that NRHM funds to the tune of about Rs.10,000 crore were allocated to Uttar Pradesh by the union health ministry over the last five years since 2005-06 fiscal.
The funds were spent through 72 chief medical officers and other nodal offices all over Uttar Pradesh under various schemes approved by the central government, covering a large number of beneficiaries. A number of these works have been executed through state public sector undertakings and a large number of contractors and firms, it said.