"The SIT probe will be headed by Madhav Chitaley, an irrigation expert, and the terms and references of the probe would be finalised by December 31," Minister for Water Resources Sunil Tatkare told the state Assembly in Nagpur on Monday, in presence of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in the House.
The Opposition had stalled the proceedings of House last week while demanding a probe by SIT following a white paper presented by the state government on irrigation projects in the state, particularly Vidarbha.
Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse, while welcoming the SIT probe, demanded that the terms and references be made known and also demanded that the officers allegedly facing corruption charges should be excluded from the probe team.
Quoting speeches of the then member and now NCP president Madhukar Pichad, Khadse said when the probe was launched against the saffron combine government with Mahadeorao Shivankar, the then irrigation minister, Pichad had asked Shivankar to refrain from probe since he was a minister, for a fair probe. Khadse demanded that a similar practice should be adopted now.
Khadse said since PILs were pending before the High Court over the alleged scam, if the government informs the court about the institution of SIT, it would help and the probe may be conducted according to HC guidelines.
MNS group leader Bala Nandgaokar and PWP's Ganpatrao Deshmukh also welcomed the probe and demanded that a time frame be set to finalise the report.
Tatkare also informed the House that the probe will not be a hurdle in completion of pending projects in the state.
Following allegations of irregularities in the irrigation projects in the state, NCP leader Ajit Pawar had resigned as the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra. However, after the government presented the white paper over the projects, Pawar returned to the state Cabinet as Deputy Chief Minister earlier this month.