Whistle-blower chief engineer Vijay Pandhare’s letters to the government and colleagues exposing blatant corruption in the system has received support from another insider.
A former professor with the state-run Water and Land Management Institute (WALMI), Aurangabad, Pradeep Purandare, who has been writing about the systemic rot in the water resources department, told HT, “Pandhare dared to expose the corruption in the system by pointing out specific instances of wrongdoing. But most of us in the profession have been aware of the dishonesty.”
“All of us know and have heard about how contracts are awarded even before finalising the designs of the dams, and why canal works remain incomplete for years even as more dams are taken up.”
In an open letter to his former students, Purandare has appealed that irrigation officials should make a clean break from the existing wrongdoings and start adhering to irrigation laws and government resolutions in letter and spirit.
In essence, Purandare has questioned the government’s irrigation statistics, pointing out that claims made by the water resources department regarding completed projects and irrigation potential created are doubtful and misleading.
Like Pandhare, Purandare has also questioned the use of lift irrigation schemes, saying their actual benefit is questionable. The former professor has raised doubts over efficiency of canals, pointing out that in the absence of repair and maintenance manual or adequate budget, these distribution networks have been badly damaged and can carry only 20-25% of water flow.
In one of the letters written by Pandhare to his fellow engineers in September, he has pointed out how many of the dams in the state are structurally unsafe.