Nagpur: The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the State Government to spell out in clear terms the role of NCP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in multi-crore irrigation scam. “Clear it within four weeks whether Ajit Pawar is prima facie guilty or not in irrigation scam,” the High Court ordered the State Government. The court also directed the government to complete the probe into pending issues within the four weeks.
Two Public Interest Litigations (PILs) regarding irrigation scam in Vidarbha have been filed in the High Court. The hearing was held on Tuesday in which the State Government was given time for four weeks to come clean on role of Ajit Pawar in the multi-crore fraud. During the hearing, the Additional Director General of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Bipin Kumar Singh filed a fresh affidavit in the High Court.
The affidavit has made guarded, ambiguous and open-ended statement without specifying any time-frame about decision against the main political executive of the relevant period. The latest affidavit merely repeated interrogation of Ajit Pawar regarding his role in the irregularities in Jigaon project by the investigating officer.
The ACB affidavit:
In its affidavit, the ACB informed the High Court that an open enquiry into the irregularities Irrigation Department in Amravati is being carried out. The ACB had filed a case against them on November 3, 2017 exposing the unholy nexus of contractors and officials who allegedly milked thousands of crores meant for irrigation projects. Since no irregularities were detected in Lower Painganga project, the probe was closed. An offence in connection with Lower Pedhi project has also been filed. Ajit Pawar has been accused of exerting pressure for awarding Jigaon contract to Bajoria Constructions. Subsequently, the investigating officer interrogated Pawar.
The Investigating Officer has also written on 01-03-2018 to Principal Secretary, Dept of Irrigation, Maharashtra State to offer opinion regarding role of Pawar in the light of Rules of Business of Govt of Maharashtra and its implication vis-a-vis Jigaon project. However, the ACB has not cleared whether Ajit Pawar played role in the irregularities. Jigaon cost rose from Rs 394 cr to Rs 5700 cr The petition had produced on record documents procured under RTI indicating that then WRD Minister Ajit Pawar and then WRD Secretary had granted approval to whopping cost escalation in their capacity as Chairman and Managing Director of the VIDC and not as Minister and Secretary respectively and no concurrence from Finance department was obtained.
The cost of the Jigaon project rose to mind-boggling Rs 5,700-crore from Rs 394 crore in 15 years. Even the mandatory permission from the State Cabinet was not obtained and no scrutiny was allowed at interdepartmental level, thereby facilitating massive loot of public money, the petition claimed while blaming Pawar and Bajoria for forging an unholy alliance throwing all norms to wind. There was breach of rules and business and Chief Secretary’s affidavit was silent about it and merely states that the agency would probe Pawar’s role, the petitioner had stated. The High Court had also demanded a specific reply from the State on this crucial aspect.