PILs against major irrigation project: HC seeks Centre's reply
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has asked the Centre and Maharashtra to file by May 24 their response to two PILs seeking CBI probe into alleged siphoning of public funds, illegalities in tender process and poor quality of work done in a major irrigation scheme known as "Gosikhurd Project."
The Union government had recently approved funds to the tune of Rs 405 crore for the Gosikhurd irrigation project in Bhandara district which has been mired in allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds.
The PILs urged for investigation either through CBI or through any independent investigating agency, asking that body to submit report to the court within a stipulated time.
The PILs prayed for a direction to the Union and state governments to recover losses caused to public exchequer by erring officials of the state government and also initiate criminal and departmental proceedings against them.
The petitions further prayed for blacklisting the contractors and recovering money paid to them for defective works and a direction to the Centre as well as the state government to complete all projects in a time-bound manner as per recommendations of High Power Committee setup in 2001.
The PILs also demanded physical audit by appointing a committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge and an irrigation expert.
Dismissing preliminary objections raised by Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC), Justices BP Dharmadhikari and AB Chaudhari recently said "merely because inquiry through CBI is suggested as one of the options, the PILs cannot be dismissed."
"We find no merit in the objections pressed as preliminary objections by respondents," the Judges said, while posting the matter for further hearing on June 19.
VR Manohar, counsel for VIDC, argued that the PILs had prayed for CBI inquiry but the alternatives like filing of FIR or a private complaint have not been resorted to. As these mandatory preconditions vital to support the prayers (demand for a CBI probe) are not satisfied, the PILs need to be dismissed at the threshold, he demanded.