The Maharashtra Anti Corruption Bureau on Friday sought permission from the state government to initiate an open inquiry against Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state president Sunil Tatkare in connection with alleged irregularities in irrigation projects during their tenures as Water Resources Minister.
According to ACB, activist Pravin Wategaonkar had on Wednesday submitted a letter to them demanding an offence be registered against Pawar, Tatkare and officials of the Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC) for the scam. Wategaonkar had earlier filed a Public Interest Litigation on the same matter and also cited the findings of the Special Investigation Team report. The SIT headed by Madhav Chitale had pointed to some lapses and financial irregularities related to the process in awarding the contracts. The committee had urged the government to probe the matter further.
Director General of Police (ACB) Pravin Dixit confirmed that permission had been sought from the state government on Friday to initiate an open inquiry against Pawar and Tatkare in light of Wategaonkar’s letter.
One of the findings of the Chitale committee was that a company, M/s F A Construction, had been awarded 12 projects by the government, whereas only a maximum of three projects can be awarded to the one contractor at a time.
“Awarding more than 3 tenders to M/s F A Enterprises and M/s F A Construction in violation of laid down rules clearly brings out prima-facie intent of the then Water Resources Ministers Shri Ajit Pawar & Shri Sunil Tatkare along with officials of the Corporation to favor the contractor,” Wategaonkar has said in his letter.
However, Tatkare said, “There is a political ploy to malign the image of Pawar and me. The matter related to irrigation has been debated and discussed several times and I have answered in Assembly and outside.”
He said, “It was our decision to publish the white paper on irrigation. It was government’s decision to set up SIT to probe corruption made by the Opposition. But Chitale committee has given us a clean chit.”