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Scam in Tribal Welfare Dept: Maha govt forms panel

The Maharashtra government has set up a one-member panel to study the recommendations of the Gaikwad committee which probed the alleged Rs 6,000 crore scam in the Tribal Welfare Department during the previous Congress-NCP regime.

The government recently set up the panel under retired IAS officer Prabhakar Karandikar to fix the responsibility against the persons involved in the scam, according to government sources.

The Gaikwad committee was instituted to inquire into the alleged Rs 6,000 crore scam between 2004 and 2009 during the tenure of then NCP leader and tribal welfare minister Vijaykumar Gavit, who is now a BJP MLA.

A prominent tribal leader of the BJP in Maharashtra, Gavit is now MLA from Nandurbar and his daughter is the BJPs Rajya Sabha member.

The five-member committee, headed former judge Justice M G Gaikwad, was appointed by the government on April 15, 2014 on an order of the Bombay High Court in March 2014.

A PIL was filed in the Bombay high court in 2014, alleging that the tribal welfare department made purchases without calling for tenders and the amounts shown as disbursed towards tribal welfare were actually siphoned off between 2004 and 2009.

The purchases were allegedly made in the name of various items for tackling malnutrition, distribution of milch animals among tribals and other purposes.

On hearing of the PIL on March 27, 2014, the court in its order directed the government to set up a committee.

Meanwhile, opposition Congress has said the formation of a fresh committee raises suspicion on the intention of the BJP-led government in bringing the accused to book.

“This raises suspicion on the intention of the Fadnavis government. When the Gaikwad committee has given its clear report which indicts Gavit in the scam, why the BJP government is setting up another committee?” Congress state unit spokesperson Sachin Savant asked.

“It is nothing but an attempt to delay an action against him,” he alleged.

Another senior Congress leader, on condition of anonymity, also pointed out that setting up a new committee to study the recommendations of a previous one is nothing but a waste of time.

“Gavit is a tribal leader and the BJP does not want to touch him and hurt the sentiments of the tribal people. Now, the new committee will take at least six months, which means delay in justice,” the leader said.

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