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Another FIR likely in Maharashtra irrigation scam this week, Bombay HC told

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) will register one more FIR this week against contractors and officials in connection with bungling in another major irrigation project in the alleged Rs 70,000-crore scam, the Maharashtra government has informed the Bombay High Court.



Nagpur: The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) will register one more FIR this week against contractors and officials in connection with bungling in another major irrigation project in the alleged Rs 70,000-crore scam, the Maharashtra government has informed the Bombay High Court.

It also said that the entire investigation will be completed in six months.

Associate Advocate General Rohit Deo also submitted progress made by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in irrigation scam probe before a division bench comprising justices Bhushan Gavai and PN Deshmukh yesterday.

 

In an affidavit filed on behalf of the state government, it was stated that investigations in respect of Gosikhurd Left Bank Canal, Right Bank Canal, Mokhabardi Tail Canal are in advanced stage.

The state also informed that 20 special teams have been constituted to investigate the complaints pertaining to 36 projects and role of contractors, officials and non-officials will be looked into, and entire investigations will be completed within next six months.

The ACB, on February 23, has already registered its first FIR against contractor Fazal Ahmed of F A Constructions and four of his family members, a retired Chief Engineer and also a retired Superintendent Engineer of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) in respect of work on Ghodajhari (Chandrapur district) branch canal in the stretch between 42.60 km to 88 km.

 

This canal is a part of the Gosikhurd national irrigation project.

The High Court was hearing a PIL filed by Jan Manch yesterday on alleged tardy pace of progress by ACB in the scam.

Contradicting the popular perception about very little progress in the irrigation scam, the state government stated that ACB is conducting a thorough probe and due to voluminous and technical nature of evidence, some more time is required but in any case entire investigation will end in six months.

Special teams constituted by ACB will look into 36 works that involved costs of Rs 25 crore or more. In three more cases, enquiry is nearing completion, the court was told. 

Contracts for earth-work, canal lining and construction of various works under Gosikhurd project have been given to different contractors, the state told the court.

Meanwhile, in Amravati Division, ACB is conducting enquiry into various works relating to Jigaon and Lower Painganga irrigation projects, it said.

Jan Manch which has filed the PIL demanding CBI probe into irrigation scam citing very little progress during last one year, has pointed out that ACB itself had admitted that probe was on only in three cases.

The petitioner organisation had submitted 3,200 pages of "detailed analysis of scam" to ACB and even then precious little had been done, it was contended.

"We have brought to fore corruption in 38 major projects," the petitioners claimed.

During the last hearing, the High Court had sought an affidavit giving factual position of investigations made so far. The High Court had made it clear that the original PILs demanding a thorough probe into Rs 70,000 crore irrigation scam was disposed of since the government had promised an open enquiry by ACB into this mind-boggling irrigation scam, but nothing has come out so far.

The petitioner organisation has alleged massive corruption and "involvement of greedy contractors, pliant officers and their political godfathers who tweaked the rules to siphon off public money" and has urged the court not to rely upon the ACB, but hand over the probe to CBI.

The PIL had highlighted that within a span of just seven months in 2009, cost of 38 irrigation projects under VIDC had escalated by a whopping Rs 20,050.06 crore (from Rs 6,672.27 crore to Rs 26,722.33 crore).

About 35 out of these 38 projects got hurried approvals in just four days -- August 14, 2009 (11 projects); June 24, 2009 (10 projects); July 7, 2009 (5 projects), and August 18, 2009 (4 projects).

Cost of six of these projects went up by six times to 33 times of their original cost and in case of 12 projects, the cost shot up by more than twice the original estimates.

Advocate Firdos Mirza appeared for the petitioner-organisation. Associate AG Rohit Deo and GP Bharati Dangre represented the state. 

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