Madhav Chitale, who headed a committee that looked into the alleged multi-crore irrigation scam in Maharashtra, has said his report does not give a clean chit to politicians. Speaking to The Indian Express, a day after the state government tabled a summary of his report along with an Action Taken Report, Chitale said, “The report clearly states that members and chairman of the governing council of the Irrigation Development Corporation (IDC) are responsible for the irregularities and violation of rules.”
The water management expert expressed surprise that significant aspects which were integral to his report were skipped in the executive summary tabled by the government in the Assembly and the Legislative Council.
According to Chitale, “The minister for water resources who is the chairman of the corporation is not bound by the government service rules which made it difficult for the committee to recommend next course of action. But it expects the cabinet to pursue and take further action against the minister responsible for the wrongs committed in irrigation sector.”
He said, “What is more significant is that the IDC came into existence in 1995. As a result there were different ministers in different phases who held the portfolio of irrigation. Moreover, it was not within our scope of terms and references to focus on the role of each minister. But that is the task which the cabinet collectively should pursue and take necessary action.”
Chitale said, “The purpose of the 1,300-page report would be defeated if politicians are given clean chit and only officials are subjected to departmental investigation and punished.”
“What is more significant to note is that the role of water resources minister is not limited to works undertaken by IDC. The minister directly takes more important policy decisions related to irrigation works whose evaluation cannot be undermined or lapses overlooked,” Chitale said, adding: “From its inception, the ministers who headed the corporation included Mahadev Shivankar, Eknath Khadse, Padmasinh Patil, Ramraje Nimbalkar, Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare. Since evaluation of individual ministers’ style and work was not the scope of our study it would be politically incorrect to make a comment. But I can suggest that if we look into the details of the projects and irregularities committed over the period of time it will not be difficult to arrive at some conclusions to proceed against those responsible.”
He said what was more shocking was the fact that ministers after assuming the executive powers in the corporation never adhered to the rules. A corporation is expected to have at least 12 members and take a collective decision. It is expected to maintain certain quorum when taking an important decision on irrigation project. But it is evident that it was never followed. That was a gross violation, Chitale added.