If the irrigation projects being implemented by the Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC) are anything to go by, the state government has taken the forest clearances issued by the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) for granted.
It has now been revealed by officials that clearance required for the Balganga project was put on the backburner while contractors were allowed to start work on the project.
The admission comes two years and after nearly 70% of the dam work is finished.
Apart from this, the KIDC handed over the project to FA Enterprises by relaxing a qualification condition, which ensured that the firm should have prior experience of clearing forest of around 200 hectares.
Not only was the condition relaxed, but the firm was given 50/50 marks for having no experience
"The tender evaluation committee relaxed the norms. FA Enterprises had no prior forest clearance experience," said RC Rithe, executive engineer, KIDC, incharge of Balganga project.
Project documents also confirm this information. The minutes of the evaluation committee dated March 13, 2009, stated that the forest clearance criteria was relaxed to enable more competitive bidding as only two out of seven firms had qualified.
Rithe also admitted that Balganga was yet to get forest clearance and the compensatory amount to be paid for to the ministry for deforestation had not yet been provided by the state to the centre.
FA Enterprises had used the Balganga's forest clearance to bag the Kalu project.
On September 7, HT had reported that the water resources department had knowingly violated environment laws in the case of Kalu dam in Thane.
"A certificate signed by KIDC executive engineer stated that FA Enterprises had got forest clearance for Balganga. This was submitted to qualify for the Kalu project. The entire forest clearance has been a sham," said Anjali Damania, volunteer, India Against Corruption.
On Tuesday, KIDC officials were forced to open up project documents for inspection before Damania and other IAC volunteers.