Maharashtra authorities are expected to name this month two former ministers in a charge sheet for a massive irrigation scam, a move that could sour relations between the ruling BJP and opposition NCP that witnessed Enforcement Directorate raids this week against another senior leader in a corruption case.
Nationalist Congress Party leaders Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare, who both headed the water resources ministry at different times, are under the state anti-corruption bureau (ACB)’s scanner for allegedly awarding tenders to contractors by flouting norms which resulted in huge cost escalation for several irrigation projects.
“The investigation has almost been completed and the permission to file charge sheet against the two former ministers will be sought from the governor soon,” said water resources minister Girish Mahajan on Tuesday.
His statement came a day after the ED arrested former MP Sameer Bhujbal, nephew of senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, in a money laundering case and carried out a slew of raids at properties owned by the family.
The charge sheet for the alleged scam in three irrigation projects being probed by the ACB will be filed in three weeks, said Mahajan.
Soon after taking charge, the Devendra Fadnavis government had announced an investigation into twelve irrigation ventures that saw “unreasonable” cost escalation.
Several public interest litigation have been filed in the Bombay high court seeking a probe into the matter.
The HC ordered an inquiry by the ACB in response to a plea filed by Aam Admi Party activist Anjali Damania over alleged irregularities in irrigation projects in the state’s Konkan region.
“The investigation related to the Kalu, Balganga and Kondane dams has reached the final stage,” Mahajan said. “The charge sheet will have more names including that of some formers ministers. It is expected by February end, after seeking due permission from the governor.”
On Tuesday, NCP chief Sharad Pawar accused the BJP-led government of deliberately targeting his party’s leaders, as he criticised the arrest of Sameer Bhujbal.
Referring to the allegations against his nephew, Ajit Pawar, the NCP president said the former deputy chief minister will face the charges and they have faith in the judicial process.