`Paper war` continues, NCP brings out booklet on irrigation

NCP came out with its own booklet "to clear the air" on irrigation projects and hit back at critics who have alleged massive corruption.

Nagpur: After Opposition countered Maharashtra Government`s `white paper` on irrigation projects with its own "black paper", the ruling coalition partner NCP on Thursday came out with its own booklet "to clear the air" on the issue and hit back at critics who have alleged massive corruption in award of irrigation contracts.

NCP leader and Home Minister R R Patil, who had earlier stirred up a controversy by saying that an economic survey, which highlighted dismal data on irrigation potential, had a printing mistake in it, released a booklet to what he called set the "record straight".

The booklet, edited by NCP MLA Shashikant Shinde, was released at party office at Vidhan Bhavan here.

Patil said the copies of the booklet will be distributed across the state "to clear the air" on the alleged irrigation scam which has been linked to NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

"Those who have no idea about Maharashtra`s geography and don`t understand the needs of the farmers and the drought situation, are making baseless allegations," Patil said.

"NCP has decided to reach out to people and tell the true story of this irrigation mess. This is why we are releasing this book," he said.

Countering the allegations of cost escalations and advances given on account of fund mobilisation, the two core issues which led to the resignation of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, NCP`s document blames "relief and rehabilitation" as major reason for the cost-escalation and the delay.

"Giving advances for mobilising funds was an old practice and we followed in line with government working," Patil said and lauded Pawar for taking "tough decisions" during his tenure as Irrigation Minister.

The paper claims the actual expenditure on the irrigation projects in the state from 1999 was Rs 30,500 crore and the irrigation potential of the state has increased by 5.17 per cent.

"The irrigation potential of Maharashtra has increased by 5.17 per cent in a decade and not 0.01 per cent as quoted in the state economic survey 2010-11," Patil claimed.