Maharashtra NCP chief appears before ACB in irrigation scam probe

Maharashtra NCP president Sunil Tatkare, who is under investigation for irregularities in the Rs 614-crore Kondhane irrigation project in Raigad district, on Tuesday appeared before the Anti-Corruption bureau (ACB).

The project was approved by the Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation on July 22, 2011, when Tatkare was its chairman. It was found that on July 22, the cost of the project was Rs 56 crore, however, in a brief span of less than a month, it increased to Rs 320 crore and a year later it further escalated to Rs 614 crore.

It was also observed that the contract for the construction of the project was awarded to one FA Enterprises, despite the fact that there was no approval either from the forest or environment department and that there was blatant violation of tender conditions.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was then leader of the opposition, had demanded a high level probe into the major irrigation projects across the state.

In fact, Fadnavis had then lodged a complaint with the ACB to demand a probe by a special investigation team. After Fadnavis took over as chief minister in December last year, he asked the ACB to conduct an open inquiry against NCP leaders Tatkare, Ajit Pawar and Chhagan Bhujbal.

Pawar is under investigation for irregularities in the Kalu and Balganga irrigation projects, while Bhujbal's name figured in the Maharashtra Sadan scam.

When they were initially summoned on May 10, Pawar and Tatkare did not appear before the ACB. The ACB then sent them a questionnaire on the allotment of contracts. Accordingly, they submitted their contentions, but it was not accepted by the ACB which instead summoned them.

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