The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Monday submitted in the Bombay High Court a “confidential report” in connection with its probe into alleged irregularities in some irrigation projects in Maharashtra.
Acting Advocate General Anil Singh submitted the report in a sealed cover. The HC was hearing a PIL by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders Mayank Gandhi and Anjali Damania and activists Ajay Mathankar and Brian Lobo seeking an independent inquiry into sanctioning of dam projects in Konkan division, citing “irregularities” in the sanction of the Kondane dam project over Ulhas river. The bench adjourned the matter until July 2 to decide on maintainability of the petition.
The petitioners have alleged that replies furnished under the RTI Act revealed no clearances were sought from the environment and archaeology departments before the project began, even though 216 hectares of forest would be affected and Kondhane Caves, a Nationally Protected Monument of the Archaeological Survey of India, are located within the catchment area. As the court asked if the ACB would probe the alleged violations pertaining to archaeological and environmental clearances, the latter said it had the jurisdiction to probe financial irregularities only.
Adjourning the case, the HC asked the investigating agency to file an affidavit declaring its stand. In January, the state government had informed the HC that the ACB had initiated an open inquiry into 12 dam projects in Raigad district against alleged irregularities in their construction.
The government took the decision following recommendations by the Madhav Chitale committee, which was set up to probe the alleged irregularities. The committee, which probed the irrigation scam, had in its report said Kondane and Chanera dams projects in Raigad needed a separate probe. Following the findings of the committee, the state government had also decided against releasing money to contractors of the irrigation projects under the ACB lens.