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ACB seeks government nod for probe against Deputy CM, Maha NCP chief

PTI 23 Aug 2014, 0:07:23 AM IST
Mumbai: The Maharashtra ACB today sought permission from the state government to conduct an open inquiry against Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and state NCP chief Sunil Tatkare following a complaint by an activist who has alleged corruption in 12 irrigation projects.  

Besides the two top NCP leaders, social activist Pravin Wategaonkar has also sought inquiry against several public servants of Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC).  “We have today referred Wategaonkar's complaint to the state government and sought permission to conduct an open inquiry against Pawar, Tatkare and others,” a top Anti-Corruption Bureau officer said speaking on condition of anonymity.

In his complaint to ACB on Wednesday, Wategaonkar has alleged that more than three contracts were awarded to the companies belonging to a particular group over the past decade in violation of the rules that prescribe a maximum of three contracts to a contractor or joint venture company.  

The complainant has alleged that Pawar and Tatkare during their stint as Water Resources Minister along with officials of the KIDC had allegedly favoured that group.  He has alleged there were irregularities in awarding tenders to the companies belonging to the group and approving various demands of the contractors which resulted in losses to the public exchequer and were contrary to public interest.  

Going against the rules, the projects were started without land acquisition, forest clearances and rehabilitation of the project affected persons, the complainant alleged.

These acts of commission and omission led to delays and price escalation in most projects, he claimed.  Noting that a total of 12 contracts were awarded to the group in the last one decade, Wategaonkar demanded a thorough investigation.

Maharashtra government had in June tabled in the state assembly the report of Madhav Chitale committee which had gone into alleged scam in execution of irrigations projects. The panel too had highlighted such irregularities.

While tabling the report Water Resources Minister Sunil Tatkare had told the house that cost escalations were brought to the notice of the governing council of irrigation development corporations by the chief financial officer and executive director but still approvals were given.  

The committee held members and the chairman (the post held by Minister of Water Resources) of corporations responsible for this.

However, Tatkare had then said approvals were given only in case of four projects where, as per the existing rules, the minister and the governing council had the powers to grant them.

When contacted, Tatkare rubbished the charges, saying “The Chitale committee report has given me and the Deputy CM a clean chit. There have been no irregularities from our end. We had also taken up this issue in the house and made our stand clear. Any allegations that have now been made against us are baseless and have no merit.”