Mumbai: Maha Vikas Aghadi government to probe Fadnavis's flagship water conservation scheme
Water resources minister Jayant Patil said the BJP should not fear if it hasn't done anything wrong. "It will be an open probe. Apart from the CAG report, we have also received independent complaints," he said
In a decision that will have impact on state politics, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government will investigate ex-CM Devendra Fadnavis's flagship water conservation programme Jalayukta Shivar Abhiyan through a special investigating team, citing the strictures passed recently by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the scheme.
In a report tabled at the state legislature last month, the CAG stated that "despite spending Rs 9633.75 crore, the Abhiyan (mission) had little impact in achieving water neutrality and increasing ground water level". The report said there was "lack of transparency" in the execution of works and inadequate monitoring by the state water conservation department.
The scheme was launched in December 2014, with a target of making Maharashtra a drought-free state by 2019. An annual target of drought-proofing 5,000 villages was undertaken. According to CAG, the scheme worked in 22,586 villages and in all 6.41 lakh works were undertaken. Of these, 98 per cent or 6.3 lakh works were completed at a cost of Rs 9,633.75 crore.
CAG's sample size too small: BJP
BJP ex-minister Ashish Shelar challenged the MVA to prove charges. "This is a political vendetta. The probe will prove the government wrong," he said, adding that the CAG had made observations after reviewing only O.17 % (1,128 of 6,41,560) of the total work. "Does this valuation bear any trust value? They haven't checked over 99% work; visited only 120 out of 22,598 villages. The report does not represent the real picture of a scheme that has made villages water sustainable," he said.
Water resources minister Jayant Patil said the BJP should not fear if it hasn't done anything wrong. "It will be an open probe. Apart from the CAG report, we have also received independent complaints," he said.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant, who consistently demanded a probe in the matter, welcomed the decision. "The Congress exposed the scam. It has benefitted contractors instead of conserving more water in the villages. The scheme has failed miserably in its purpose," he said, asking the government to recover the money spent on promoting the scheme from the BJP.
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