In a major jolt to the Maharashtra government, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court has cleared the way for hearing petitions that have demanded a CBI or court-monitored probe into the mega irrigation scam in the state.
A division bench on Wednesday rejected the preliminary objections raised by the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) questioning the maintainability of two public interest litigations for seeking a CBI probe into the reported financial irregularities and corruption in irrigation projects across Vidarbha without making a representation to the state government or filing a criminal complaint case.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has slammed the VIDC for large-scale financial impropriety in executing these projects.
Citing the CAG report, in its PIL, Jan Manch pointed out that within seven months in 2009, the cost of 38 VIDC projects escalated by Rs 20,050.06 crore and that 30 of these projects had got approvals in four days.
In its affidavit, the VIDC admitted to cost escalations, but pegged the figure at Rs17,701 crore.
Another petition filed by social workers Mohan Kare-more, Amit Khot and Bharti Dabhadkar has questioned the VIDC's role in unjustified cost escalations.
In December 2012, the government announced that a special investigation team headed by former secretary Madhav Chitale would look into the scam. It is expected to submit its report in six months.