‘Lapses in 1,300 Jal Yukt Shivar works’: minister for water conservation Tanaji Sawant
The state on Monday admitted to lapses in 1,300 water conservation works being carried out under CM Devendra Fadnavis’ pet project, Jalyukta Shivar, to make Maharashtra drought-free.
The scheme was introduced in 2015 to create water-shed structures to harvest rain water and enhance groundwater levels in 25,000 villages. Activists, experts have termed it “unscientific”.
Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, in his budget speech, said the government had spent Rs 8,946 crore on the scheme between 2015-16 and 2018-19.
Minister for water conservation Tanaji Sawant said: “We have noticed lapses in 1,300 works being carried out under the scheme. Water conservation department received complaints about irregularities. We have set up committees to look into each case.”
Chavan had raised the question about work in Purandar taluka of Pune district. In a written reply to a question raised by NCP legislator Vidya Chavan in the council, he said: “A confidential internal probe by the ACB has confirmed the irregularities. The soil and water conservation department’s joint director has been appointed to conduct an open inquiry into the matter.”
The Opposition demanded an open inquiry by the ACB in the matter. The state, however, said the decision on handing over the probe to the police would be taken after experts submit their reports. “This is a technical subject for the ACB to handle. Once the technicalities are examined internally, the police may take over. Reports on four works have been submitted and the remaining are likely to be sent within the coming week,” said Sawant.
Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde said, “The ACB is technically sound. Inquiries can be conducted at the same time.”
Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar, chairman of the council, cited examples where parallel probes were carried out. While the Opposition threatened not to let the council function unless they get a satisfactory response, Nimbalkar reserved the question, and directed Sawant to present a detailed reply during this session.