Terming as 'baseless' the allegations of connivance among Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, Konkan Region water resources department officials and private firm FA Construction, Maharashtra government on Tuesday said there was no favouritism shown while awarding tenders.
An affidavit was filed on Tuesday by Pralhad Sonawane, chief engineer Konkan Region Water Resources Department, in the Bombay high court in reply to an affidavit filed by social activist Pravin Wategaonkar seeking CBI inquiry against Pawar, the then water resources minister and officials of the erstwhile Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation.
Wategaonkar had in his affidavit filed on August 1 alleged that the procedures adopted with regard to Jamda and Balganga projects of KIDC indicate that sanctioning of contractor claims, award of contracts and cost escalations were vitiated due to arbitrariness, nepotism, malafides, loss to the exchequer and corruption.
Wategaonkar filed his affidavit in a PIL last year into the irrigation scam.
The affidavit alleged the then Maharashtra water resources development minister Ajit Pawar appeared to be complicit along with erstwhile KIDC officials and contractor FA Constructions.
The government in its reply on Tuesday denied the allegations.
"On part of KIDC it is compulsory to allot a tender to the lowest bidder. Hence question of any favour in awarding contract does not arise. For every tender invited, there is a Tender Evaluation Committee comprising high ranking officers from across Maharashtra which recommends the eligibility of the contract," the affidavit stated.
It added that tenders awarded to FA Enterprises and FA Constructions are as per the standard procedures.
The matter is likely to come up for hearing on Wednesday before a bench of justices SC Dharmadhikari and SB Shukre.
Wategaonkar in his affidavit had also claimed Jamda contract was initially awarded to M/s FA constructions for Rs. 75 crore to which additional work quantities (of twice the original price) were added to this contract of Rs. 158 crore, taking the total contract value to Rs. 233 crore.
To this, the government said the increase of cost in the Jamda project was due to increase in cost of land acquisition, changes in the structural design of the project, introduction of new items of work and other reasons.
"It is true that the execution on Jamda project was stopped on account of land acquisition problems and opposition from the project affected persons. The cost of land acquisition in Konkan region is rapidly increasing due to urbanisation and industrialisation," the government said.