A day after chief minister Prithviraj Chavan tabled the white paper on irrigation projects before the cabinet, petitioners who have filed public interest litigations (PILs) claiming corruption and irregularity in the projects accused the government of not addressing issues such as corruption charges, the politician-bureaucrat-contractor nexus and deliberately defective designs.
The petitioners, who have filed PILs in the Nagpur and Aurangabad benches of Bombay high court, want the court to appoint a high-level committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge and an irrigation expert to conduct physical audits of the projects, assess the state’s irrigation potential and unearth the alleged scams.
RG Jagtap, general secretary of Nagpur-based Jan Manch, said the government had given politicians such as Ajit Pawar and irrigation minister Suni Tatkare, bureaucrats and contractors a clean chit without investigation. “The white paper was prepared by the state without constituting a proper inquiry on the allegations,” he said.
While the white paper has listed several reasons for cost escalations of projects, it has remained silent on the corruption charges made by activists and the Opposition. Activists said the explanations given for cost escalation are just a lot of calculations and permutations and combinations of numbers that the government has done to give itself a clean chit. “There are no such financial irregularities,” the white paper has said.
The PIL in Nagpur has sought a CBI probe into the alleged siphoning of funds from irrigation projects in Vidarbha and sub-standard work by contractor with help from corrupt bureaucrats and politicians. “It’s a criminal conspiracy to deprive Vidarbha of its legitimate dues,” Jagtap said.
Anil Kilor, president and counsellor of Jan Manch, said: “We will definitely get justice from the court.”
The PIL will come up for further hearing in Nagpur on December 7.