SRINAGAR: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit, senior BJP leader and Jammu and Kashmir’s Deputy Chief Minister, Nirmal Singh, has landed in a controversy for removing a top official in the Power Department who refused to award the contract of a power project to a Chennai-based company, allegedly in violation of the norms.

The revelations were made by a Jammu-based newspaper, The State Times, sparking an uproar in the state following which the opposition, National Conference, and Congress demanded a probe into the matter.

According to reports, the deputy chief minister tried to award a Rs 700-crore, 100 MW Solar Power Project in Kathua to the Chennai-based “The India Energy Private Limited” through intermediaries and brokers, in complete violation of all nodal regulations.

Terming the allegations as "shocking", the NC's chief spokesperson, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi said it is "indicative of the deep, systemic patronage to corruption by the PDP-BJP government at the highest levels of leadership."

According to reports, Prof Singh, who heads the J&K's power ministry, had told his Power Secretary, Sandeep Nayak, to award the solar-power project to “The India Energy Private Limited” through an intermediary from Pucca Dunga, in Jammu.

"Deputy chief minister was in direct contact with the firm and had consequently passed illegitimate and unofficial orders to the former Power Secretary, Sandeep Nayak to allot the 700 crore project in Chan Arorian, Kathua to the firm without facing competition in a tendering process," reports said.

The National Conference said when the Power Secretary refused to follow the illegitimate verbal orders of the Deputy CM, he was transferred as a punishment for refusing to do so. "One can only dread what is going on at the lower levels of the state government when the deputy chief minister himself is involved in an alleged scam of this size and with such brazenness,” Mehdi said.

Reports said the Officer on Special Duty to the deputy chief minister had sent a written note from the minister to the Power Secretary to award the project in favour of the Chennai-based firm.

"This proves the deputy CM’s involvement in this scam. The note by the OSD conveyed the ‘desire’ of the deputy CM that the Power Secretary should ‘take immediate steps’ for signing the power purchase agreement with the developer so that the project could be executed by the particular firm which was in direct contact with the Deputy Chief Minister. This is ample proof of the Power Minister’s involvement and the Chief Minister should speak up on this issue without any delay and ambiguity or else the CM’s silence would be perceived to be a sign of his complicity in this scam,” he said.

Hitting out at government, Mehdi said the chief minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, succumbed to pressure from the BJP and the deputy CM to "extend illegitimate favours to a particular firm".

"Nayak played important role in the power sector in the state. He has been involved in the execution of Baghliar-1 and Baghliar-2 Power Projects. Today, when officers like him are transferred by the State Cabinet for resisting illegal orders – the Chief Minister’s patronage to corruption becomes an established fact,” Mehdi said.

“It seems like Mufti Sahab is out to make J&K the most corrupt state in the country once again – a position of disrepute that Mufti Sahab earned for the state during his previous stint as chief minister," Mehdi said.

"There is wanton corruption in all departments and undue and illegal favours are being doled out by Cabinet Ministers in consideration of bribes and financial stakes in projects. The Chief Minister’s office is completely silent on these reports and this is a sign of the Chief Minister’s tacit approval or his involvement. We demand a thorough and transparent probe into this matter,” he said.

Seeking resignation of Nirmal Singh, the Congress party Tuesday demanded an explanation from the chief minister on the issue. Questioning the government over its “tall claims of transparency and accountability”, JK Congress's chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said it puts a big question mark over the motive and transfer policy of the government.

"The chief minister should immediately explain the position in the matter in the light of facts brought out by the media. Besides we are seeking the resignation of the deputy chief minister in view of the disclosures containing serious charges. An independent high level probe is required to bring out the entire truth in the matter,” he said.