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Rajasthan: ED searches premises linked to ex-Cong minister, others in Jal Jeevan Mission case

Jaipur: The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday searched premises linked to former Rajasthan PHE department minister Mahesh Joshi and some others in a money laundering probe linked to alleged irregularities in the Jal Jeevan Mission, official sources said.

Last year, the federal agency had conducted at least two rounds of raids in the case related to the central government programme.

The locations linked to Joshi, a former minister of the public health engineering (PHE) department, and some others are being searched under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the sources said.

Joshi was denied a ticket by the Congress to contest from the Hawa Mahal seat in Jaipur in the last year assembly polls in the state.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had last year raided premises in Jaipur and Dausa, including the residential and official premises of senior PHE department officials and IAS officer and the then additional chief secretary Subodh Agarwal, apart from some private persons.

The agency had earlier claimed that several middlemen and property dealers "aided" officials of the state government's PHE department to siphon off "illegally earned" money from the Jal Jeevan Mission.

Probe found that contractors were involved in securing tenders pertaining to Jal Jeevan Mission works, based on purported "fake" work completion certificates issued by the Indian Railway Construction International Limited (IRCON) and by "bribing" senior PHE department officials, it had alleged.

Former Rajasthan chief minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot had alleged that central agencies were acting on the directions of the BJP-led government at the Centre to target opposition leaders and Congress-led state governments.

In the 2023 assembly polls, the BJP wrested Rajasthan from the Congress.

The money laundering case stems from a Rajasthan anti-corruption bureau FIR which alleged that Padamchand Jain, the proprietor of Shree Shyam Tubewell Company, Mahesh Mittal, the proprietor of Shree Ganpati Tubewell Company, and others were involved in "giving bribes" to public servants to obtain illegal protection, obtain tenders, get bills sanctioned and cover up irregularities in works executed by them under various tenders received by them from the PHE department.

The Jal Jeevan mission launched by the Union government aims to provide safe and adequate drinking water through household tap connections and it was being implemented in Rajasthan by the state's PHE department.

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