The state government Thursday refused to heed to the Opposition’s demand to bring the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is probing the alleged irrigation scam, under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952.
The SIT headed by Dr Madhavrao Chitale, a water expert, was appointed by the state government in December last year to probe allegations of graft in the irrigation projects.
Speaking in the Legislative Council, Water Resources Minister Sunil Tatkare argued that all irrigation projects in the state were under the purview of the SIT, which will probe all aspects and recommend action. Opposition has alleged that while Rs 72,000 crore were spent on irrigation projects under the ruling Congress-NCP dispensation, there was no increase in the area under irrigation.
The business in the Legislative Council was disrupted several times over the past five days after the state government refused to agree on a debate saying the matter was sub judice. The debate finally took place on Thursday after the government relented.
Replying in the Council, Tatkare said, “There are several valid reasons for cost escalation in irrigation projects. Delays are a result of rehabilitation and land acquisition problems. If corruption is found in the CAG’s report on irrigation projects in the state, the government will not remain in power.”
Vinod Tawde, Leader of Opposition in the House, said, “The state is non-committal on increasing the terms of reference of the Commission (SIT). We have submitted documents to this commission to back our claims, but no action has been initiated.”
BJP MLC Ashish Shelar said the SIT should be brought under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, as was the case with Adarsh scam. “Constitution of India provides for any commission related to larger public welfare to be brought under this Act so that it has the powers to search, issue summons and give protection to government officials who depose. The current body has none of these powers,” said Shelar.
PIL seeks CBI probe
A PIL filed in the Bombay High Court Thursday has sought a CBI probe into the alleged Rs 70,000-crore irrigation scam and urged the court to order an inquiry into the role of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. The petitioner, one Pravin Wategaonkar, has urged the court to order an FIR against Pawar under the Prevention of Corruption Act.