Former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar Saturday was mobbed by BJP leaders and workers when he arrived for “bhoomi pujan” of the renovation work of the Bahinabai Chaudhary zoo in Sambhajinagar area of Pimpri-Chinchwad. The zoo is being renovated at a cost of Rs 14 crore.
The moment Pawar arrived for the function around 10.30 am, BJP leaders led by Eknath Pawar gheroaed and urged him to desist from inaugurating the renovation work of the zoo since it smacked of corruption. “There has been corruption of Rs 68 lakh in the renovation project. After BJP brought this to the notice of the municipal commissioner, he had stayed the work. Therefore, you should not inaugurate the work,” Eknath Pawar urged Ajit Pawar.
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However, Ajit Pawar refused to budge saying the municipal commissioner had not stayed the renovation work and went ahead with the inauguration amidst noisy demonstrations by BJP activists.
The police detained 30 BJP workers who were later released. The whole drama lasted for 20 minutes.
This was the first time Ajit Pawar had faced a protests in Pimpri-Chinchwad on this scale, said NCP leaders.
Speaking to reporters, BJP leader Eknath Pawar said, “By going ahead with the bhoomi pujan of the renovation work, Ajit Pawar is clearly supporting corruption in the PCMC. The civic body had floated tenders of Rs 14 crore for the renovation work. One of the contractors who quoted the lowest rate by 2.14 per cent of the tender amount bagged the contractor. He was supposed to get the work for Rs 13.70 crore. However, the civic standing committee sanctioned the renovation work at Rs 14.34 crore, which means there is a corruption of Rs 68 crore,” he said.
However, NCP leader Mangala Kadam, in whose Sambhajinagar ward the zoo renovation work is taking place, denied any corruption. “Who is Eknath Pawar? I don’t recognise anybody who obstructs development work,” she said. Mangala Kadam is the House leader of NCP in the PCMC.
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Kadam said e-tendering process was followed for the renovation project. “Nobody can object to e-tendering. It is a transparent process. Three-four contractors had filled the tenders and there was competition among them. Therefore, to make allegations of corruption is not proper. I had invited Eknath Pawar for today’s function. In future too, he and BJP leaders can come and inspect the project,” she said.