Maharashtra irrigation scam: loss not yet quantified, state tells Bombay HC
The state government, on Thursday told the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court that it had not yet quantified the loss caused by the 2012 irrigation scam. The previous NCP-Congress government pegged the losses at ₹70,000 crore in the scam. The figure was first used by then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan in 2012 against his deputy and NCP member Ajit Pawar. The BJP, which was in opposition, had converted the issue into an electoral plank and promised action against those involved in the scam.
Special counsel Anand Jaiswal told the division bench of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Z A Haq, that it will be difficult to quantify the loss at this juncture as special investigation teams are currently probing 94 tenders issued in 42 projects.
The Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC), which had been caught in the eye of the storm when the controversy erupted during the democratic front regime, also questioned the basis of the allegation levelled by the petitioning organisation Jan Manch.
The state, on Thursday, opposed the formation of a committee to probe the reason for the in investigation. It also opposed the imposition of collective action on the entire irrigation department, claiming it would penalise honest government officers. However, the state wants individual liability to be fastened against those found guilty, Jaiswal said.
Senior counsels Prasad Dhakephalkar and Anil Sakhre, representing Ajit Pawar, and his close-aide and ex-MLC Sandip Bajoria, also opposed the setting up of a third-party agency stating that it was beyond the jurisdiction of the high court. The court has reserved its verdict. However, it rebuked all parties, reminding them that honest taxpayers’ money was siphoned off.