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We distributed gifts to irrigation contractors: CM

Despite the uneasy truce with ally Nationalist Congress Party, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Friday attacked the Sharad Pawar-led party over dipping irrigation potential in the state.

mumbai Updated: Sep 22, 2012 01:52 IST
Dharmendra Jore

Despite the uneasy truce with ally Nationalist Congress Party, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Friday attacked the Sharad Pawar-led party over dipping irrigation potential in the state.

Talking to journalists, Chavan stood by his claim that the state increased its irrigation by a mere 0.1% under the NCP-led water resources department. “We distributed khirapat (gifts) to contractors. Projects like Gosikhurd stand testimony to this,” said an upset Chavan. The NCP has already countered the CM’s claim saying the increase in irrigation was 5%.

On Friday, Chavan blamed contractor-oriented irrigation works for low achievement. “I don’t know why they did not complete works that needed to be finished for increasing availability of water. We have been seeing ill-effects of bad planning in this year’s drought.” Chavan said it was this ill-planning that forced him to seek a grant of Rs2,200 crore from the Centre to resolve water woes.

Two NCP leaders - water resources minister Sunil Tatkare and deputy CM Ajit Pawar, who is also his predecessor – have been under fire for cost escalations and other alleged irregularities in irrigation projects. Chavan feared that “gifting” of contracts may happen in the future as well. “We have to do projects worth Rs70,000 crore. We need to plan and know how this money will be spent.”

Following a public outcry over cost escalations in irrigation projects, the CM declared that the state would put out a white paper on the issue. The NCP is yet to publish the white paper. Party spokesperson Nawab Malik said the NCP will bring clarity to the issue soon. “The water resources department minister has promised the white paper. It will come before the public. I don't think commenting on partial information is healthy.” He pointed out that for the past 13 years, it was a Congress CM who led the Democratic Front government and was responsible for the planning department. “Most projects in the Krisha valley have stalled because of backlog and Governor's directives. This will lead to cost escalations,” he added.