After a complaint of misuse of power was found to be true, the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has transferred the Investigation Officer (IO) of the high profile Balganga irrigation scam to Ratnagiri. The officer will, however, continue to be part of the investigation in which former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s role is being probed.
In February this year, Subhash Zagade, an executive engineer with the Maharashtra Water Resources Department had launched a complaint with the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) against Deputy Superintendent of Police (Dy SP) Sunil Kalgutkar, who was then attached with the Raigad unit of the ACB.
Zagade, in his complaint, had said that he was ‘kidnapped’ and ‘forced’ by Kalgutkar to release payment to a contractor. Following the complaint, the SHRC sought a report from the ACB.
The agency submitted an adverse report to the SHRC and subsequently transferred Kalgutkar who was posted at the agency’s headquarters to Ratnagiri which is deemed to be a side posting.
Kalgutkar had been investigating the Balganga irrigation project scam, in which a case was registered by the agency in August last year against 11 accused under the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly causing a loss of Rs 92 crore to the state exchequer through misconduct in connection with the construction of a dam over the Balganga river in Raigad.
Six of the accused are government servants posted with the Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC) at the time, while five are partners at FA Enterprises, the company that got the contract. Ajit Pawar, who was then the Water Resources Minister and chairman of the corporation, had presided over the meeting.
While the Satish Mathur, Director General, ACB, confirmed the transfer, he refused to comment on the case. “It was a part of a routine transfer,” Mathur told The Indian Express. Kalgutkar, however, claimed he was being made a scapegoat as he is conducting probe in the irrigation scam, where the role of top NCP leaders are being investigated.
“I am probing a sensitive case and therefore have been unfairly targeted by the complainant so as to cast aspersion on the investigations,” Kalgutkar told The Indian Express. Officials privy to the details of the case said that in May last year, Kalgutkar had allegedly visited Zagade’s office and forced him to release the a payment cheque of a certain contractor who is believed to be known to him.
“The said contractor bagged a tender comprising of a contract of four projects. Since he allegedly did not have the requisite expertise, he engaged a Pune based contractor. While the cheques were released to the said contractor it is believed that he did not pay the other contractor. Following which, the Pune-based contractor did not allegedly submit the final report to the irrigation department,” a senior official from the agency privy to the details of the case told The Indian Express while speaking on the condition of anonymity.
“After Zagade moved to the SHRC, an internal probe by the ACB was ordered. An adverse report against Kalgutkar has been submitted by SP Datta Karale recently,” the source added. When contacted, SP Karale confirmed that he has submitted a report but refused to comment further.
However, Kalgutkar denied all allegations claiming that they were ‘malafide’. He also stated that he had submitted a detailed report to the then DG ACB Praveen Dixit seeking a case of criminal misconduct to be registered against Zagade.
“In November, another complainant approached me against Zagade and in January this year, I had submitted another report asking for a case of criminal misconduct to be registered against Zagade. But I was asked by a senior officer to not take action against Zagade,” Kalgutkar said.
Kalgutkar, meanwhile, claimed he had not forced Zagade to make any payments. “I never kidnapped or forced Zagade to make payments. The said contractor is not known to me. I feel I have been made a scapegoat in the case as I probing a sensitive case,” he added. Kalgutkar too has moved the SHRC earlier this week.
Meanwhile, senior ACB sources said that while they have transferred him, he would be continued in the irrigation probe as the investigations in the sensitive Balganga dam case were in the final stages. “We got him shifted to the HQ since May 7 and have asked him to complete the investigations within a month,” said a senior official.