Three years after a state-appointed committee raised questions over the construction of 11 barrages in Marathwada, the government kept mum on the report and spent another Rs 1,200 crore to complete these projects.
The report by former water resources secretary MK Kulkarni on these 11 barrages built on the Godavari river reveals yet another case of public money going down the drain in irrigation projects.
The report was leaked by the BJP in a media conference on Wednesday. It has still not been made public and tabled in the state assembly as promised by the state.
HT had reported on Wednesday that these 11 barrages had cost the state exchequer nearly Rs2,000 crore; the cost of the projects had been hiked more than 10 times.
“There is a criminal element in this scam because the state sat tight on this report that has put a question mark on every aspect of the barrages, from lack of quality control to actual benefit. Instead of taking action, the government spent another Rs1,200 crore on it,” said BJP legislator Devendra Fadnavis.
On Wednesday, the BJP demanded a SIT probe into the scam after criminal complaints were lodged against concerned officials.
The report has put an overall question mark on the efficiency of these barrages pointing out that given the power shortage in the state, using stored water through lift irrigation pumps may not be feasible. The report also raised doubts about the filling of these barrages as no survey had been conducted to verify availability of water for each of these barrages in the dry river basin.
Former BJP MLA Babanrao Lonikar on Wednesday told media that firms of contractors close to the NCP, including NCP MLC Satish Chavan’s firm and that of Avinash Bhosale’s, had got come of these contracts.
In his defence, Chavan told HT, “I am not associated with the firm anymore and was not on its board when this contract was awarded. Moreover, these allegations that farmers have not benefited is rubbish. The barrage build by the firm I was associated with is being used by nearly 1,400 farmers and has irrigated 3,000 hectares of land.”