IAC to `expose` Maha govt`s irrigation scam with `black paper`

India Against Corruption said it will publish a "black paper" on the alleged irrigation scam in Maharashtra.

Mumbai: India Against Corruption on Saturday said it will publish a "black paper" on the alleged irrigation scam in Maharashtra, a day after the state government issues a `white paper` later this year as promised in the just- concluded Monsoon session of the legislature.

Addressing a press conference, Mayank Gandhi of the IAC alleged that there were large-scale irregularities in procedures of sanctioning irrigation projects.

Last week, Water Resources Minister Sunil Tatkare had told the Legislative Assembly that the white paper would be published by December. He had also said that the irrigation capacity of the state had increased by 5.17 per cent in the last decade.

Gandhi alleged, "Dams are constructed not for water, but to make money."
According to him, projects get started before all the regulatory approvals including land acquisition, forest and environment clearances. Unnecessary dams, instead of leak repair dams, are constructed like Khakad dam in Jawhar taluka of Thane district has zero capacity due to leak, but a new dam called Lendhi is being constructed one km away, he said.

He said there are separate rules for minor, medium and major irrigation projects. To circumvent the stringent conditions of medium and major dams, administrative approvals are taken as if for minor projects.

Gandhi further alleged that tender processes are "faulty and malafide" with disregard to all CVC guidelines. Many dams have not constructed canals and tributaries, hence water does not reach farms and utilised for industry and housing, he alleged.

"There are 1,693 dams in the state. Maharashtra has the maximum dams in the country (35.7 per cent). However the proportion of the gross irrigated area is 17.8 per cent, which is much lower than the national average of 44.6 per cent," Gandhi said.

Referring to the Kondane dam project in Raigad district,
he said faulty and malafide tender processes was undertaken.

"It is shocking that the height of the dam increases from 39 meter to 71 meter after the contract is awarded," he said, adding the project value increased six times from Rs 56 crore to Rs 328 crore without re-tendering the process.
According to Gandhi, the work on Kondane dam has been stopped and contracts terminated for violating the conditions of administrative approval. The work was started in total violation of the Governor`s directives, he claimed.

He said administrative approval was for Rs two crore, but the tender was issued for Rs 200 crore for Susri dam in Dahanu in Thane district. Gandhi said IAC was studying all the dams in the state and would be reveal all details in due course.


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