Non-government organisation India Against Corruption (IAC) team has appealed to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to accept deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s resignation immediately. It has also appealed to the government to form a special investigative team (SIT) to probe all irrigation projects commissioned over the past 10 years.
“Along with Ajit Pawar, we hope Chavan asks for resignation of the present irrigation minister Sunil Tatkare, who is equally responsible for the Rs70,000 crore scam,” said IAC leader Arvind Kejriwal. “This is Chavan's test. He should accept the resignation and not bow to political pressure. There is a direct relation between farmers committing suicide because of drought and irrigation projects. So, these ministers and officials need to take responsibility,” Kejriwal added. The IAC also demanded resignations of chief engineers of the five irrigation divisions of Konkan, Vidarbha, Marathwada, Krishna Valley and Godavari.
Kejriwal said the IAC had details of nine dam projects in the Konkan irrigation area, where costs had escalated by 500-600%. “The modus operandi in all dam [projects] is the same, ranging from change in height of dams to land acquisition and forest clearances, which are violated,” he said. Kejriwal called for an SIT comprising retired Supreme Court judges to probe aspects including the economic extent of the scam, violations, environmental damage and human rights violations. “We cannot rely on the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for this. If you look at the CBI’s history, those involved in scams ranging from 2G to Commonwealth Games either never went to jail or are out on bail,” Kejriwal said.
He extended support to Vijay Pandhare, the chief engineer in the Maharashtra irrigation department who pointed out irregularities in the department. “We are proud of such officers... We extend our protection to him and will take to the streets against parties who claim he is mentally unstable,” he said.