Mumbai: The Beed administration on Monday suspended local administrators who were accused of selling water tankers meant for people of drought-hit Marathwada region to rich businessmen.
The move came after a sting by India Today showed that Beed Panchayat officials were selling 12,000-litre water tankers for Rs 2,000 each.
Two officers of Beed Panchayat Samiti Lakshmikant and Ghyasuddin Zuberi were suspended, as per the report.
The report also said that the Beed District Collector had summoned Beed Zila Panchayat CEO and had ordered a departmental enquiry into the matter.
As per an investigation by India Today, water tankers meant for the people were being sold to businessmen for profit.
Reporters, posing as businessmen wanting to set up an industry in the area, had met Gopal Gurkhade, the Sabhapati of Beed municipal council.
Gurkhade was told that they would need 2-3 tankers of water everyday.
The reply they got was – “No issues, our work will continue throughout the year. If the rainfall is good, you won’t need any tankers.”
When told that the “condition will be like this for two more months”, Gurkhade had said, “Don’t worry, we will provide you ‘full’ water, as much as you want. See, you the situation here. It’s a bit ‘tight’. You’ll get a tanker for Rs 2,000… 12,000-litre tanker…”
Gurkhade had added, “Use it wherever you want, we will provide you the tanker within 10km of Beed, wherever you need it.”
And so the media house’s reporters had struck the following deal – Rs 6,000 for 36,000 litres water every day.
On top of it, Gurkhade had also offered protection from police and uninterrupted power supply for the factory.
Then the investigating team had met officers of Beed’s Panchayat Samiti.
Lakshmikant, the Panchayat officer and Ghyasuddin Zuberi (the man who handles all the accounts of the tankers) had met the team at their hotel.
When said that 2-3 tankers of 12,000 litre capacity would be needed daily, Zuberi had said, “You be assured. Will give you more, not less,” and Lakshmikant added, “Tankers will operate at night. Though these tankers are being operated by the administration, there will be no identification plate on them. Tankers will come, unload water at your site and leave.”
Next day the two had met the reporters again to discuss money which was decided at Rs 2,000 per tanker or Rs 4,000 per day.
Lakshmikant had told them, “You can pay us once every eight days.”