Irrigation scam: Will ex-deputy Maharashtra CM Ajit Pawar get in trouble with ED?
Former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar may land in trouble with the Enforcement Directorate over his alleged involvement in the multi-crore irrigation scam. It is learnt the ED has written to the anti-corruption bureau seeking details of Pawar’s involvement in the scam. There has also been speculation over this in the state secretariat.
The ACB has been investigating the irrigation scam, which rocked the former Democratic Front government in 2011, for the past two years and five months. While the investigation agency has filed one charge sheet and two First Information Reports (FIR) in two of the irrigation projects under scanner, senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) politicians accused in the scam, Pawar and former irrigation minister Sunil Tatkare, have so far not been indicted in these cases.
Sources in the government told HT Pawar could be in trouble with his alleged links in two specific projects — Balganga dam in Konkan or the irrigation contracts given to Raj Group.
HT had reported in July 2015 how Pawar’s direct links to the irrigation scam could be traced to one of the firms that had bagged several contracts during the Congress-NCP tenure. The directors of this group included a kin of Pawar and his close associate. Records from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs had also shown Pawar had business links with the contractor, which were later relinquished.
However, nearly two years after these reports and complaints filed in this case with the ED and ACB, there had been no progress in the investigations.
While in the case of the Balganga dam, the ED had registered a money laundering case, it was also probed by the ACB. The ACB in its chargesheet of the Balganga dam had not named Pawar, but it had also not given a clean chit to the politician. The ED had been asked to investigate the money trail in the payments given to the contractor, which had in turned been invested into nine of his companies and check if Pawar had any links with these firms.
The open inquiry into the irrigation scam was initiated by Devendra Fadnavis in December 2014 after he took over as chief minister.