Maharashtra scraps 128 irrigation projects cleared by Cong-NCP govt

Mumbai: Citing irregularities, Maharashtra government has scrapped 128 irrigation projects with collective budget of Rs 624.28 crore, sanctioned by the previous Congress-NCP government in the last four months of its tenure.

"Tenders for these projects were not received through the e-tendering method. They were sanctioned hurriedly in the last four months before the model code of conduct for the Assembly elections came into force," Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan told PTI.

The government had also directed the anti-corruption bureau to conduct enquiry into 14 other projects, 12 of them in Konkan region, he said.

"We could save this money (Rs 624.28 crore) because work orders had not been passed yet. A large number of big-ticket projects seemed useless," he said.

Mahajan alleged that bureaucrats were under pressure during the earlier regime to give green signal to projects. "I have received a lot of complaints from bureaucrats that they were under immense pressure to quietly give nod for the projects," he said, alleging that projects worth more than Rs 50 lakh were not cleared unless a former minister gave his approval.

"Once we are through with the enquiries, we will not spare any political leader. However big the leader may be, he or she will have to face the law," Mahajan added.

The Congress-NCP government had appointed Madhav Chitale committee in December 2012 to scrutinise the escalation of costs of irrigation projects, after Shiv Sena and BJP, the then opposition, alleged a scam of Rs 70,000 crore.

The committee submitted its report in March last year. The then water resources minister Sunil Tatkare (NCP), while tabling the report in the Assembly, had said the cost escalations had been brought to the notice of the governing council of irrigation development corporations by the chief financial officer and executive director, and still approvals were given.

The committee held members and chairman (the post held by Minister of Water Resources) of corporations responsible for this, he had said.

Tatkare, who was the Water Resources Minister till June last year, had said that delay in completion of irrigation projects was due to the delay in acquisition of land and rehabilitation of project affected-persons.

The NCP leader today told reporters here that the present BJP-led government should clarify who had called for the tenders and who approved them.

"Hassan Mushriff, who succeeded me as Water Resources Minister, had written to Principal Secretary, Water Resources seeking details of cancelled tenders. But he has not received any response," said Tatkare.

He also said that during his tenure he had instituted a probe into allegations of corruption in the Kondana project in Konkan.

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