Even as the probe against errant engineers of the water resources department gets underway, serious questions are being raised over the efficacy of the exercise.
The probe against the 57 engineers of the irrigation department will rely heavily on the chargesheet filed against them. The charge sheet will be drafted by the water resources department itself, raising fears of an eyewash. The CM has decided to hand over the subsequent inquiry to an IAS officer. But even this may not solve the problem.
“Even if one of us gets this job, we will rely on the charge sheet filed against individual officials,” a senior bureaucrat told HT. “If due diligence is not followed while framing charges and pointing to exact violations or dereliction of duty, then the subsequent probe loses bite.”
He added that no inquiry officer will go out of his way to add offences to the existing charge sheet and change terms of reference of the probe. The bureaucrat also said that despite assurances, a departmental inquiry is a long process and the probe would take at least a year.
Both the ND Vadnere Committee, and the HT Mendhegiri Committtee that investigated Gosikhurd’s left bank canal work slammed the department for arbitrary cost escalations, flouting tender norms, shoddy work, and lack of quality control. The two committees pinned responsibility for acts of commission and omission on several officials, including the water resources secretary DP Shirke. Shirke is one of the two secretaries of the department and is expected to take over as the sole department head after the other official Eknath Patil moves out on central deputation.
Activists, including whistleblower Vijay Pandhare, and the Opposition have now demanded that the entire probe, including filing of the charge sheet, be taken away from the water resources department and handed over to a team of IAS officers. Water resources and public works department are the only two departments not headed by IAS officers in the state secretariat.