NCP Leader Ajit Pawar Scores Clean Chit in Vidarbha Irrigation Development Scam

The Anti Corruption Bureau statement reads the inquiries were closed as no criminal offense was made by Ajit Pawar

On Friday Maharashtra’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has given a clean chit to NCP leader Ajit Pawar in the multi-crore Vidarbha irrigation scam. The Anti Corruption Bureau, in its affidavit submitted in the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, has set out the former deputy CM Mr. Ajit Pawar’s involvement in cases.

The former deputy CM of Maharashtra Ajit Pawar was accused of irregularities in approval and commissioning of irrigation projects in the Vidarbha region. The affidavit was submitted on November 27, 2019, just a day before the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government i.e. Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress sworn-in the state on November 28. After a month-long drama of the Maharashtra Government formation.

Mr. Ajit Pawar, the NCP MLA from Baramati in Pune district, was Water Resources Development Minister during 1999-2009 when the Congress-NCP alliance was in power in Maharashtra. Mr. Pawar had also served as chairman of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC).

The court asked the Anti Corruption Bureau to clarify the stand of Mr. Pawar in the scam. The Anti Corruption Bureau is investigating a total of 2,654 tenders related to 45 projects of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation as per two PILs filed in 2012 before the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court.

On November 25, the anti-graft agency had said it has closed inquiry in nine cases of alleged corruption in irrigation projects clarifying that none of it has any involvement of Mr. Pawar. The Anti Corruption Bureau said in their statement, “These inquiries were closed as no criminal offense was made out after inquiry against anyone. None of these nine Inquiries was in respect to Ajit Pawar“.

The November 27 affidavit, a senior Anti-Corruption Bureau official said the court had asked the agency to submit a ”status report” on the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation scam before November 28.

“We have not closed inquiry into the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation cases. In some cases, we have filed charge sheets and investigation is also going on. Similarly, investigation into FIRs related to these cases are also going on. We have submitted the status report on investigation going on into tenders that were issued Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation”.

He said the HC had asked the ACB to submit a report on the PIL concerning award of tenders in an irrigation project in Amravati. Pawar was named a respondent in this PIL. “Concerning this, we had, in our previous affidavit, written that we have referred this matter to the government for opinion. Now, we have got an opinion from the government that Ajit Pawar was not involved in it and this we have communicated to the court a few days back. Besides, Ajit Pawar was never an accused in any of our cases and investigation into Vidarbha irrigation tender cases are still on,” the official said.

Also Read: Ajit Pawar can be arrested anytime in irrigation scam: Maharashtra BJP president

The former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis gave his reaction on the affidavit stating, “It (the affidavit) was not submitted to me or anyone in the government. It’s been done at the ACB level. I had resigned a day earlier”. Fadnavis said that the clean chit was not done on his watch.

Understand the Irrigation scam:

  1. The 38 Irrigation projects were the cost of 6672 crore which was later increased up to 26722 crore. The amount was increased by Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation.
  2. The amount was 300 times higher than expected and gets approved within 3 months i.e in June, July, and August without any cross-question.
  3. Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation gave reasons to the sudden price rise because the price rise of land, construction, maintenance, engineers’ wages, wages of workers, etc to get approval from the government.
  4. On 24th June 2009 over 10 irrigation projects seeks approval from the state government and more than 38 tender were about to pass soon. The Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation announced.
  5. Looking at the whole scenario CAG, Comptroller and Auditor General of India started investigating and questioned many officials related to this scam.
  6. The major blow come when the chief engineer clarified 35000 crore amount is wasted in this scam. The projects which are built are of poor quality and the government has only spent 70 thousand crore on it.
  7. The anti-corruption bureau called the then Water Resource Development Minister Ajit Pawar for Inquiry thrice and Pawar gets clean chit from it.

Irrigation Scam happened in 2004 and 2008, which came in light in 2012. In 2014 after the BJP government came in power the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis gave orders to do inquiry of Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare and Chhagan Bhujbal leaders of INC.

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