Saturday, Jun 25, 2022 | Last Update : 03:33 PM IST

  Metros   Mumbai  07 Apr 2017  Government spared 14 ‘scamsters’: Report

Government spared 14 ‘scamsters’: Report

THE ASIAN AGE. | AMEY TIRODKAR
Published : Apr 7, 2017, 4:07 am IST
Updated : Apr 7, 2017, 5:29 am IST

The committees had held 14 officers responsible for misdeeds and irregularities and suggested that action should be taken against them.

This was revealed by the Public Account Committee’s (PAC) report on the department that was tabled in both Houses of the state legislature in this session.
 This was revealed by the Public Account Committee’s (PAC) report on the department that was tabled in both Houses of the state legislature in this session.

Mumbai: The state government has spared 14 officers in the irrigation department who were held responsible for financial and procedural irregularities by an inquiry committee in the Gosikhurd irrigation project in spite of suggestions that action be taken against them. This was revealed by the Public Account Committee’s (PAC) report on the department that was tabled in both Houses of the state legislature in this session. Incidentally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is now in power, had demanded the strictest action against guilty officers when it was in the Opposition.

In 2010-11, the then-state government formed the Mendhegiri and Vadnere committees to find financial irregularities in the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) and other projects. The committees had held 14 officers responsible for misdeeds and irregularities and suggested that action should be taken against them.

 

However, according to the PAC report, not a single errant officer was punished and the document expressed clear dissatisfaction with the conduct of the irrigation department over this. The report reads, “The officers should have been suspended and chargesheeted, as per the code of conduct. But the department didn’t take any action. They are being investigated. But they needed to be suspended for the duration of the investigation. This is a serious mistake on the part of the irrigation department.”

According to reports, two of fourteen officers who were held responsible retired in the last two years while seven are on another posting with the same project and five have been transferred. PAC chairman Gopaldas Agarwal referred to this as “an attempt to push their misdeeds under the carpet.” However, Mr Agarwal added that his committee would continuously follow up on the matter.

 

mumbai

Reacting to this development, Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil attributed it to ‘the real working style of the BJP government’. “These are the same people who used to ask for action when in the Opposition. But now they are trying to save these officers. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis must clarify the government’s position on the matter.”

When The Asian Age contacted irrigation minister Girish Mahajan, he said he was yet to read the report.

Officers’ names

1.     S.R. Suryavanshi (retired)
2.    S.L. Kholpurkar (transferred)
3.    V.D. Pohekar (transferred)
4.    Ramesh Wardhane (same project, another posting)
5.    L.P. Ingale (transferred)
6.    G.M. Sheikh (transferred)
7.    K.C. Tayade (transferred)
8.    V.G. Gotrade (same project, another posting)
9.    S.M. Apate (same project, another posting)
10.    U.V. Parvate (same project, another posting)
11.    P.D. Morghaide (same project, another posting)
12.    M.U. Rane (same project, another posting)
13.    S.G. Waghaaye (retired)
14.    S.G. Hire (transferred)

 

What is the irrigation scam?

  • l In 2009, Ajit Pawar, the then-state irrigation minister cleared 32 irrigation projects worth Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 crore, allegedly without following the due procedure. After they were sanctioned, the cost of projects increased and they received approvals.
  • l In 2012, the irrigation department’s chief engineer Vijay Pandhare wrote a letter to the irrigation secretary where he alleged that some had colluded to sanction projects at a lower cost and then escalate it systematically under the pretext of increasing the height of the dam or widening the reservoir.
  • l The Rs 35,000-crore irrigation scam came to light after the Economic Survey observed that though Rs 70,000 crore had been spent on various projects in the last decade, the state’s irrigation potential had increased by only 0.1 per cent.
  • l The cost of 38 irrigation projects of the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) in Vidarbha was increased by over 300 per cent from Rs 6,672 crore to Rs 26,722 crore and this was approved in a short span of three months between June and August 2009.

The damning CAG report

 

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India while presenting its report for the year ending March 2012 to the state Assembly had said that `43,270.01 crore was spent on 426 incomplete projects in Maharashtra and this has led to cost overruns of around Rs 27,000 crore.
  • In 242 projects, the collective cost had escalated by Rs 26,617.26 crore from Rs 7,215.03 crore to Rs 33,832.29 crore.

The CAG gave the example of the following projects:

Name of project Cost overrun
A) Kukadi    Rs 2,152.98 crore
B) Krishna-Marathwada irrigation project     Rs 2,462.55 crore
C) Lower Dudhna    Rs 997.37 crore
D) Nandur Madhmeshwar    Rs 817.60 crore
E) Waghur    Rs 1,171.27 crore
F) Lower Tapi    Rs 985.10 crore
G) Shelgaon Barrage medium project     Rs 870.02 crore
H) Bodwad Parisar Sinchan Yojana    Rs 819.09 crore
I) Koyana Hydro Electric Power Station IV     Rs 1,091.27 crore

 

History of the Gosikhurd Project

  • Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi inaugurated the Gosikhurd project on April 22, 1988. The ambitious project was expected to irrigate about 2,50,800 hectares of land in three districts in eastern  Vidarbha (Nagpur, Bhandara and Chandrapur) but so far it has created an irrigation potential for only 49,238 hectares till now — only 19 per cent of its target.
  • The original cost of the project was estimated at Rs 372.22 crore, but when the foundation was laid, it increased to Rs 634 crore. Now, the cost has rocketed to Rs 18,494.57 crore and till December 2016, the government has spent a total of Rs 9,642.14 crore on the project.
  • Farmers are yet to receive the entire compensation for their acquired land and 177 families are yet to be rehabilitated to ensure the project stores water to fullest of its capacity. The amount of Rs 1,285.35 crore, which was intended for this work, is yet to be disbursed.

 

Tags: pac, bjp, devendra fadnavis, vidc
Location: India, Maharashtra, Mumbai (Bombay)