The government is only indulging in political vendetta aimed at targeting Ajit Pawar says NCP.
The NCP has alleged that the Maharashtra government’s decision to scrap 94 irrigation projects to the tune of Rs 6,000 crore as politically motivated. The party asked why has the government suddenly brought this issue on the forefront and what was it doing for the past two years? It also added that the government is only indulging in political vendetta aimed at targeting former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. Earlier Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had given Anti- Corruption Bureau the nod to probe against Pawar in the multi-crore irrigation scam in Maharashtra. On one hand, Fadnavis is trying to project that his government is adopting a zero-tolerance policy against corruption on the other hand NCP has said that charges filed against Pawar is baseless. Political analysts are saying that the former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan lacked political will to take action against NCP leaders in corruption cases.
Earlier Ajit Pawar had cleared projects worth Rs 20,000 crore in 2009 by tweaking rules. Pawar, who was Water Resources Minister between 1999 and 2009, had allegedly approved those projects by flouting norms and without seeking clearance from Governing Council of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC).
Reacting to the development, NCP leader Nawab Malik questioned the timing of this move and claimed that Fadnavis government was only interested in targeting Pawar. “Where is the outcome of the enquiry (against Ajit Pawar)? The allegations are false,” he added.
NCP leader Majid Memon said, “People have been hearing about the irrigation scam for the past few years. The Fadnavis government is indulging in politics by bringing Pawar under scanner for the irrigation scam. Why did the government fail to act for the past two years and why this issue has gained prominence suddenly? The government is only trying to settle political scores.”
The Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Office confirmed the move by posting a tweet on social media, “Maharashtra Cabinet decides to scrap around 94 irrigation project tenders in which Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has initiated probe.”
Irregularities were noticed in the irrigation projects in 2012 by Vijay Pandhare, the then Chief Engineer in the water resources department. He had written to then Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and the governor.
After the controversy erupted Pawar had tendered his resignation from the post of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister in September 2012. However, Congress gave a clean chit to Pawar and later he was reinstated.
This is not the first instance when the Maharashtra government has cancelled the irrigation project tenders cleared by the erstwhile Congress-NCP government.
The BJP-Shiv Sena government had earlier scrapped nearly 128 irrigation projects with collective budget of Rs 624.28 crore, sanctioned by the previous Congress-NCP government in the earlier four months of its tenure.