SIT to probe irregularities in Maharashtra’s Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan scheme: State home minister Anil DeshmukhUpdated: Oct 16, 2020, 00:11 IST
A day after the state cabinet announced plans to conduct a probe into alleged irregularities regarding water conservation scheme Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan (JSA), state home minister Anil Deshmukh on Thursday said that the probe will be carried out by a special investigation team (SIT). He said that appropriate action will be taken against the guilty after the report.
The Maharashtra cabinet on Wednesday decided to probe the former Devendra Fadnavis government’s flagship project on which ₹9,634 crore was spent in the past five years. “#CAG report has raised many questions on the quality, cost & results of the Jalyukt Shivar scheme launched by Ex-CM @Dev_Fadnavis Ji. Hence we have decided to hand it over to #SIT for the investigation of irregularities in this scheme & then take further actions accordingly,” Deshmukh tweeted.
The home minister said that besides strictures by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), there were complaints of largescale corruption in the scheme.
According to Mantralaya officials, the SIT will comprise officials from the water resources, water conservation and police departments. “A committee of senior officials from these departments will have to probe technical flaws, variation in the tendering process and criminal offences related to corruption. First information reports (FIR) have been registered in a few districts against the irregularities in the works allotted at the local level. Police officers will look into the criminal aspect of the irregularities,” said an official from the water resources department.
Deshmukh told his cabinet colleagues on Wednesday that the home department will depute the finest officers to conduct the probe.
The JSA project involved deepening and widening of streams, construction of cement and earthen stop dams, work on nullahs and digging of farm ponds.
Girish Mahajan, former water resources minister, said that the scheme was implemented transparently. “More than 6 lakh works were undertaken under JSA and the powers to allot these contracts were given at the district council and district collectorate level. The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has been citing the CAG report while alleging corruption in the scheme, but the report has not mentioned any corruption,” he said.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashish Shelar said that JSA was not a scheme but a public movement. “Conducting a probe into it is like investigating farmers, workers and common people directly involved in it. We are not against the probe, but it should not be politically motivated. The MVA government will fall flat on its face after the probe report,” he said.
The CAG report tabled in the state legislature on September 8 slammed the Fadnavis government for its failure to implement JSA envisaged to make villages in Maharashtra drought-free. Besides the deficiencies in planning and lack of provision of adequate funds for maintenance of works, JSA failed to achieve water neutrality in drought-prone villages and increase the ground-water level as intended, the report stated. IT added that even after spending ₹9,634 crore, the Abhiyan had little impact in drought-prone districts, which ended up deploying more tankers than in the past.