H T Mendhegiri, who blew the lid off several irrigation scams that unfortunately were not taken notice of by the erstwhile Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government, will now advise the BJP government on improving the state’s water resources.
CM Devendra Fadnavis is not happy with the performance of the water resources department
Mendhegiri, former secretary of the water resources department, was appointed as advisor to the government on Monday. Sources in the government said that the engineer has been brought on board by CM Devendra Fadnavis, who is not very happy with the performance of the water resources department.
A senior officer, who is privy to the matter, said that Fadnavis had expressed his displeasure at a review meeting held recently and wondered why minister Girish Mahajan and officials were not coming up with proposals before the Cabinet.
“Mahajan told the CM that the officials under him were not performing as expected. I think that the deliberations at this meeting made the CM seek the services of Mendhegiri, who is known to be an upright officer and technically sound,” said the officer, requesting anonymity.
Following allegations by the opposition and citizen groups, Mendhegiri, who was appointed as a probe officer, had exposed rampant corruption, cartels of contractors, nexus between contractors and officials, and bad quality of work.
He had recommended demolishing 23 km of the left bank canal of the Gosikhurd project which was supposed to irrigate districts in Vidarbha, because of its poor quality of construction. He also worked on another committee that studied the payment of mobilisation advances to contractors and violation of norms (if any) during project implementation.
However, a white paper, which the Congress-NCP had published after allegations of a scam of Rs 70,000 crore in irrigation projects across the state, did not mention anything of Mendhegiri’s findings. No action was taken on his recommendations.
The government resolution issued on December 14 said that Mendhegiri would quit his private job before taking up the government assignment. It said that the ex-secretary would work on integrating the irrigation plan, revising water policy, amending rules and regulations, expediting projects and enhancing micro-irrigation, among many other things.
The order also says that Mendhegiri will have to declare his participation in any private assignment, and in future he will not work, directly or indirectly, for such private entities or persons. Before Mendhegiri’s induction, Fadnavis had some experts appointed as his advisors in different fields. Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule has an advisor, Vishwas Pathak. Mendhergiri was not available for comment.