In a 14,000-page document submitted on Monday to the Madhav Chitale committee, which is probing the alleged irrigation scam in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party has claimed to have proven how cabinet ministers, who headed the water resources department between 2000-09 and 2010-11, wilfully caused massive losses to the state exchequer.
“We want the committee to probe the role played by [deputy CM] Ajit Pawar, who headed the department, and his Nationalist Congress Party colleague Sunil Tatkare, who is the current minister, in escalating project costs. They conspired with executive directors of the irrigation development boards to help contractors,” said state BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis in Aurangabad, where he submitted the evidence to Chitale.
Opposition leader in the legislative council Vinod Tawde, who was also present, dismissed the white paper released by the water resources department as hogwash.
The duo contested several findings in the paper, which they alleged was produced only to counter the charge that the state government had created a mere 0.1% irrigation infrastructure in those 10 years.
Following allegations, Pawar had resigned last year, and had returned to the cabinet after the paper was published.
Tawde said the proof presented by them was more than enough to prosecute Pawar and Tatkare and ensure a prolonged jail term for them.
“If former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad can be sent to jail in an old fodder scam, we are confident of seeing these two behind bars,” he said.
“Respective water resources ministers and executive director of the Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation allotted works worth Rs1,000 crore as ‘additional work’ without calling for tenders between 2000 and 2006,” the leaders said, and alleged rules were changed to facilitate the nexus between the cabinet ministers and contractors.
Tawde said some escalated tender costs were approved in a single day. “Many such hasty decisions were taken ahead of the 2009 elections. And we don’t need to explain why the minister acted so efficiently.”
Reacting to the allegations, Pawar said, “Who is Tawde to talk about sending me behind bars? Is he a judge?”