While major irrigation projects in the state are already under the scanner over graft allegations, a Rs1,600 crore water sector improvement project is also being probed for substandard canal work and lax dam safety procedures.
The water resources department ordered the inquiry in June after the World Bank, which has loaned the money, raised concerns about the quality of work. Under the scheme, 236 canals were to be modernised for effective water distribution, and 277 dams were to be made safer.
Water resources minister Sunil Tatkare said the inquiry was constituted to resolve some technical issues, and is being conducted in northern Maharashtra and Marathwada regions by chief engineers of the department’s Amravati and Nashik divisions.
“The panels were to submit their reports by September 15, but have asked for a two-month extension saying they were unable to visit the sites because of rains,” said a senior state official.
Activists are not enthused. “The truth will prevail only when independent experts are assigned the probes. The department’s engineers are under political pressure,” said Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti.