The mention of state NCP president Sunil Tatkare in the chargesheet filed by the Anti-corruption Bureau, which is investigating the multi-crore irrigation scam in Maharashtra, can spell trouble for the party led by Sharad Pawar.
The developments have created a flutter in the political corridors in the state. While the BJP has claimed that Tatkare’s mention in the chargesheet displays “political will” to tackle corruption, the NCP fears the probe would hit its image.
Tatkare, who was minister of water resources in the Congress-NCP government, is facing charges of alleged financial irregularities and violation of norms in the Kondane irrigation project in Raigad. Questions have been raised over the project cost escalating to Rs 327 crore from Rs 80.35 crore during his tenure as minister.
Fadnavis had given the nod to the ACB to probe the alleged multi-crore irrigation scam in December 2015. Two NCP leaders, both former ministers for water resources, had come under the scanner — Tatkare and Ajit Pawar.
However, in the past two years, action was initiated against only four officials, leading to speculation on whether the state government was going slow against the political leaders involved in the scam.
On Saturday, responding to a question on status of the probe, Fadnavis said, “The ACB was investigating the irrigation scam. The investigation was going on the right track. There was no question of the government compromising on corruption. The case was being thoroughly scrutinised and required a voluminous chargesheet, which takes time.”
Earlier, the state had suspended four engineers in the irrigation department for corruption in the Kondane project. The crackdown was an outcome of a departmental probe, and the four officials are superintendent engineer Dagdu Shinde, assistant engineer Chandrakant Rithe, executive engineer Giriraj Kishanrao Joshi and sub-divisional engineer Vijay Raghunath Kasat.
The role of former water resources secretary D P Shirke along with 45 other engineers is also under investigation.
Apart from the cost escalation, the Konadane project is under scanner for the dam’s height being raised to 32.30 metres without seeking prior permission from the Competent Financial Authority. An official in the water resources ministry said, “There are several anomalies in the clearance of the Kondane project. Apart from financial irregularities, environmental clearance, which is must for land acquisition, was not sought.”
A senior NCP leader requesting anonymity said, “Tatkare’s name has featured in the chargesheet filed by the ACB. The probe is underway. We should wait for the final verdict .”
PM never offered me cabinet seat: Sule
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut in an article in Saamana Sunday alleged that PM Narendra Modi had offered a cabinet berth to NCP MP Supriya Sule. This was conveyed to him by NCP president Sharad Pawar during personal conversations, Raut claimed. However, Sule turned down the offer, saying, “I would be the last person to join BJP.” The NCP has denied the claim. Sule told a TV channel, “ I had not met the PM nor made any such comment.”