NCP leader Ajit Pawar gets clean chit in irrigation scam case

The 16-page affidavit, dated November 27, was submitted at the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court by ACB superintendent Rashmi Nandedkar in which she has observed that there is no criminal liability on the part of the then chairman of the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) in respect of the process of granting sanction.

NCP leader Ajit Pawar gets clean chit in irrigation scam case

New Delhi: The Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has given a clean chit to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar in cases related to allegations of irregularities in irrigation projects in Nagpur a decade ago. 

The 16-page affidavit, dated November 27, was submitted at the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court by ACB superintendent Rashmi Nandedkar in which she has observed that there is no criminal liability on the part of the then chairman of the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) in respect of the process of granting sanction.

"The payment of EMD amount by the successful bidders for his competitors in some cases, issuing of tender booklets to some non-eligible bidders joint venture firms without following the pre-condition of the tenders etc. But these lapses are on the part of executing agencies of the tender work i.e Engineers, Divisional Accountant and the respective contractors. The Chairman of the VIDC/Minister of WRD cannot be held responsible for executing agencies, as there is no legal duty on his part", the probe agency said in its affidavit.

Minister of Water Resources Department is ex-officio chairman of the VIDC.

Nandedkar, in the affidavit also mentioned, that during the verification of nearly 302 tenders, no irregularity has been found against Ajit Pawar in as many as 17 cases. 

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The state ACB has also said that the chairman of the VIDC has acted in the line with the then prevailing policy of the corporation and in accordance with the proposals put up before him by the Executive Directors on Managing Directors of the VIDC.

In the report filed in the court, the probe agency mentions that "considering the facts and evidence collected during the course of enquiry/investigation, it is observed that there is no criminal liability on the part of the then Chairman of the VIDC (Minister of WRD) in respect of the process of granting sanction to the liability of the tender cost including that of updated cost and sanctioning the mobilization advance to the contractors or any other allegations/charges."

Pawar was in-charge of Maharashtra's irrigation department when the Congress-NCP coalition government was in power in the state from 1999 to 2014. That was a period during which the scam, relating to alleged irregularities in various irrigation projects, took place.

It is for the second time that the ACB has given clean chit to Pawar in the alleged corruption cases in the irrigation scheme amid the high-voltage political drama in Maharashtra after the assembly election. 

After he took oath as the deputy CM of the state, the ACB closed investigations in some of the cases pertaining to scam. At least nine cases in which he was allegedly involved, though it is not clear if he was directly named, were closed. 

(With ANI inputs)