The Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of Surat has registered four cases of cheating against 11 persons, including six government officials and private contractors, for their alleged involvement in swindling government funds to the tune of Rs 20.52 lakh under a water harvesting scheme. According to the ACB, the 11 accused that included two retired officials defrauded the government by showing on paper that 23 ponds were dug up at four villages in three talukas of Surat district.
According to the ACB, officials of Gujarat State Land Development Corporation Limited (GSLDCL) colluded with private contractors and showed on paper that 23 ponds were dug at Dadhoi, Parvat, Lavet and Selar villages. On official documents, they showed that the work was done at different time intervals between January 22, 2017 and April 10, 2017, ACB sources said.
On investigation, ACB officials found that the farmers of the four villages had not applied for farm ponds as there was no problem of water in their fields.
“We have started looking for the accused and have sent our teams to different places. Till now, no arrests had been made. When our probe teams contacted the farmers, they denied that they had applied for farm ponds. On verifying the documents, we have found that the accused had used fake names of farmers and even some of the farmers died long ago,” said N P Gohil, In-charge Assistant Director of Surat ACB.
To promote water harvesting among farmers, the state government had come up with a farm pond scheme wherein the government paid 90 per cent expenses for digging up a 30mX30m pond with the remaining 10 per cent cost to be met by the farmers. The cost of digging up one such pond was fixed at Rs 1 lakh.