RR Patil gives ACB permission to inquire against Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare

Sources, however, say this order has no value and the proposal will go to chief secretary and chief minister where it will be declined

On Saturday, the Maharashtra Home Ministry, headed by RR Patil, gave permission to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for an open inquiry against state Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and state Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sunil Tatkare for their alleged role in the multi-crore-irrigation scam. Sources, however, said that the home ministry’s clearance has no value and the proposal will now go to the chief secretary and chief minister where, in all likelihood, it will be declined.

Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare
Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare were water resource ministers between 1999 and 2009, when the multi-crore scam took place

Both Pawar and Tatkare were the water resource minister between 1999 and 2009 when the alleged multi-crore irrigation scam took place in the state. The complainant, activist Pravin Wategaonkar, had cited a special investigation team report headed by Madhav Chitale which stated that there were irregularities in granting tenders to a firm. The irrigation department and officers of Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC) were allegedly responsible for it.

After Wategaonkar approached ACB’s Director General of Police, Pravin Dixit, the latter sought permission for an open inquiry against the minister and the KIDC from the state government. “The home minister has given permission, but the file will now go to the chief secretary and the chief minister. The ACB might not get permission,” said a source from ACB. He added that this is a politically motivated decision by the ministry ahead of the state assembly elections to prove that it’s not corrupt.

What did the report say?
The Chitale report had written about the irregularities in the irrigation contract awarded to a firm but didn’t name the minister and officers who had flouted the laws.

What the survey showed
The scam came to light after the economic survey found that despite the state spending R70,000 crore, its irrigation capacity had only increased by 0.1 per cent. In June this year, Pawar was given a clean chit by the state when it tabled the report in the assembly and promised to take action against the officers involved. ACB officials said the evidence submitted by Wategaonkar demanded an inquiry. He had compiled two reports — one by the Chitale committee and other by the Auditor and Comptroller General.

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