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ACB gives confidential report to HC in Maha irrigation scam

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Monday submitted to the Bombay High Court a confidential progress report in a sealed cover about its probe into the alleged irregularities in the multi-crore-rupee irrigation scam in Maharashtra.

The report was submitted by Acting Advocate General Anil Singh to a bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil which was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Mayank Gandhi, an Aam Aadmi Party leader, and others, alleging irregularities into 15 irrigation projects during the previous Cong-NCP led government in the state.

The bench adjourned the matter to July 2 to decide on the maintainablity of the petition.

The PIL contended among other things that hundreds of acres of forests will be affected by Kondhane Dam project in Raigad district which does not have the requisite permission from the environment ministry. Also, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had issued a stop-work notice on the project as it was affecting some caves in the vicinity, contended the PIL.

The court asked ACB whether it will probe violations pertaining to forest, archaeological and environment issues.

However, ACB said it had the jurisdiction to probe financial irregularities only. Other issues were to be inquired into by different agencies, it said.

Adjourning the matter to July 2, the HC asked ACB to declare its stand on the issue in an affidavit by then.

On January 29, Maharashtra government had informed the HC that ACB has initiated an open inquiry into 12 dam projects in Raigad district for alleged irregularities in their construction.

The government took the decision following recommendations by the Chitale committee which was set up to probe the alleged irregularities. The government had formed a special inquiry committee, headed by former secretary Madhavrao Chitale, along with three other members to probe irrigation scams across the state.

The government has accepted most of the recommendations of the Chitale Committee. It has suggested holding a detailed inquiry by an appropriate authority in respect of Kondhane and Chanera projects in Raigad district.

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