Sugar mills sold after HC order, no irregularities in procedure: Ajit Pawar
After the Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached the properties of Jarandeshwar Sahakari Sugar Karkhana (Jarandeshwar SSK) on Thursday, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar claimed there were no irregularities in the selling procedure of the mill in 2010.
Speaking in Pune on Friday, Pawar asserted that the board of directors of Maharashtra State Co-operative (MSC) Bank did not sell the sugar mills directly and it was done as per the orders given by the Bombay high court (HC). He also said the directors of Jarandeshwar SSK mill would appeal in court against this action.
“While selling Jarandeshwar sugar mill, MSCB followed all the due procedures. Around 12-15 companies had applied in the tendering process. The highest bid was offered by Guru Commodity situated in Mumbai for ₹65.75 crore and the mill was sold at this price. Other mills were also purchased by various companies. Many owners of the mills appealed against this in courts but the results were not in their favour,” said Pawar.
ED on Thursday said it had attached assets worth ₹65.75 crore belonging to Jarandeshwar SSK situated at Chimangaon-Koregaon in Satara in connection with the money laundering case involving MSC Bank, while adding that a firm linked to the deputy CM and his wife Sunetra was involved in the case.
However, Pawar categorically denied any wrongdoing in this matter. He claimed that multiple investigations have already been done by several other agencies but nothing has come out of it. “An agency has a total right to do the inquiry. During the tenure of the last government, the criminal investigation department (CID) had done an inquiry after it received complaints, but nothing came out of it. After that, the anti-corruption bureau started an inquiry but nothing came out of that as well. Many PILs have been heard in the high court regarding this matter. A committee of retired judges had also done an inquiry in the selling of these mills. The allegations of me snatching the sugar mills have been made earlier as well. But the sugar mill was not sold by the board of directors; it was done after the order of Bombay high court,” said Pawar.
He added that the current directors of Jarandeshwar SSK would appeal in the courts against the action taken by the agency. “There are no irregularities in the operations of Jarandeshwar SSK. When the directors of this mill were called by ED for inquiry, they showed all the records to them. So why has ED started this action now is beyond me. The directors of Jarandeshwar SSK will appeal in court for justice. Thousands of farmers and workers are dependent on this mill for their livelihoods,” said Pawar.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Chandrakant Patil alleged that the wrongdoings related to Jarandeshwar SSK is just the tip of the iceberg of fraudulent selling of 24 cooperative sugar factories, and all such transactions are now on ED’s radar. “The action on the Jarandeshwar SSK is just the beginning. Sugar mills and cotton mills acquired for meagre amounts through MSCB are now under ED’s radar. The fraudulent pattern to take over sugar mills has been unveiled. After ED’s action on Jarandeshwar SSK, the transaction paperwork has come into public domain,” said Patil.
He also refuted allegation that the action taken by the central agency was to create political pressure. “Those who complain about the action first should accept that there has been a fraud. Those who have done wrong will have to pay for it,” he said.