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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

14-year-old report on Maharashtra irrigation irregularities goes missing

Hindustan Times  Pune, September 23, 2013
First Published: 20:21 IST(23/9/2013) | Last Updated: 20:30 IST(23/9/2013)

One of the first reports on alleged financial irregularities in irrigation projects submitted in 1999 has gone missing.

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The report on the corruption in Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC), the agency that implements dam projects in Western Maharashtra, was submitted 14 years ago by SN Mushriff, former Pune superintendent of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

Last week, Maharashtra chief information commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad ordered an inquiry under Section 18 (2) of the Right to Information Act after it came to light during a hearing that the document had gone missing from the authorities. Gaikwad issued the order on an application filed by RTI activist Popat Kurne in Pune.

ACB chief Raj Khilnani has been asked to conduct the inquiry and be present for the commission’s next hearing.

Incidentally, no action had been taken by the state on the findings of the report. Mushriff, now retired, had also sought an open inquiry into MKVDC by his superior at ACB but got no reply.

The report had highlighted the nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and contractors to award dam contracts to a handful of firms by introducing pre-qualification norms before the tender was passed.

The report pointed out that these norms gave officials the choice to select a particular party from among the registered contractors. “Large scale favouritism took place,” Mushriff said. “Those in the good books of politicians and officials were given contract.”

In his note, Mushriff alleged manipulation of tender notices in various newspapers so that only a few copies published them to avoid competition. In several cases the estimated cost of projects was inflated, sometimes — even doubled. He had also found that MKVDC sanctioned advance amount to contractors bypassing norms. His report covered the instances during the Sena-BJP as well as Congress-NCP governments.

HT had reported on the findings of this report following the irrigation controversy that saw deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar stepping down from his post. Activists have suspected foul play and alleged that the report was blanked out to avoid further action on it. 
 
What the report says:

*Dhom Balkawadi Project, Satara district (cost Rs. 100 crore):  An unsuccessful bidder lodged a complaint with MKVDC saying that the company which was allotted work used another company’s documents to qualify.
 
*Temghar Project, Pune district (cost Rs. 160 crore): The company that bagged the contract allegedly furnished forged documents. Instead of acting on it, officials worked out a formula and divided the work between two companies. In this case, the tender of the third and only other bidding company was not even opened.
 
*Jambhoree Project, Kolhapur district (cost Rs. 40 crore): A company was denied work initially. The same company joined hands with another company to bag the contract. The new company was not on the list of registered contractors.
 
*Work on Ujani canal in Solapur district ( Rs. 3 crore) and Kudal canal in Satara district ( Rs. 4 crore) was allotted without issuing tenders.
 
*In Takari case in Sangli district, contractors refused to work and demanded higher raters even after allotment. Instead of penalising them under law, fresh tender was floated and work was given at a higher cost.
 
*For qualification, several contractors submitted work-done certificates furnished by cooperative sugar factories. Most of these certificates were bogus.
 
*Computers worth Rs. 2 crore were bought, but these were of sub-standard quality. National Informatics Centre has officially communicated that the computers were not as per required specifications.


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