Spelling more trouble for Nationalist Congress Party leaders Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare, the Bombay high court on Friday directed Maharashtra anti-corruption bureau (ACB) “to look into” allegations of corruption and irregularities against them in connection with the multi-crore irrigation projects.
“We direct the ACB to look into the petitioner’s representation made on April 1, 2016 and do the needful,” said a division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak while disposing of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a socio-political organisation, Krantikari Jaihind Sena, through advocate RN Kachhave.
The PIL demanded criminal proceedings against government officials and the NCP leaders .
The organisation has relied on a CAG report filed on June 2014 to hold the former Maharashtra ministers responsible for irregularities.
According to the PIL, the CAG report revealed that Maharashtra government has spent Rs43,270 crore on 426 incomplete irrigation projects, some of which have remained unfinished for the past 45 years. The report further noted that between 1999 and 2010, when Ajit Pawar headed the irrigation department, the cost of 242 projects was escalated to Rs33,832 crore from Rs7,215 crore.
The PIL cited several examples of projects where cost overruns have been over Rs800 crore. These projects include Kukadi (cost escalation by Rs2,152.98 crore), Krishna Marathwada irrigation project (Rs2,462.55 crore), Waghur (Rs1,171.27 crore), Koyana Hydro Electric Power Station IV (Rs1,091.27 crore), Lower Dudhna (Rs997.37 crore), and Lower Tapi (Rs985.10 crore).
Interestingly, the work on Kukadi project began in 1967 and was expected to b e complete by 1972, but is yet to see the light of the day. The petitioner also relied on the state-appointed Wadnere Committee report, which indicted 15 public servants for irregularities in the Gosikhurd project and 12 public servants in connection with Mendhegiri project.
Meanwhile, the bench also directed the ACB to consider another PIL filed by Krantikari Jaihind Sena, which alleged irregularities purportedly committed by the then directors, including Ajit Pawar, of Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank and purportedly causing a loss of Rs1,400 crore. The petitioner complained that although it has lodged complaint with the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai police and ACB, the agencies have not taken any cognisance of the same.