NCP Nephew Trouble : Ajit Pawar Faces Probe, Now

Inquiry ordered into 189 small irrigation projects awarded during the ministership of Ajit Pawar

Mumbai : The nephews of top NCP leaders are in the line of fire; first, it was Sameer Bhujbal and now it is the turn of Ajit Pawar. The State government has ordered an inquiry into 189 small irrigation projects awarded during the tenure of Irrigation Minister Ajit Pawar. The tendering processes of these projects were allegedly riddled with irregularities; also there were charges of nepotism – of favours being granted to certain contractors.

Though strictly speaking the inquiry has come on the heels of the directives of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court, observers, however, said the decision was politically loaded and could have a bearing on the longevity of the Devendra Fadnavis government. The NCP can also play a more ‘productive role in Parliament,’ pointed out sources, in the backdrop of the recent stalemate over GST.

Water expert Pradeep Puran-dare had filed a PIL in 2014 seeking an inquiry into the irregularities in the tendering process of small irrigation projects and payoffs from contractors. While hearing the case the Aurangabad Bench had ordered on December 18, 2015, a preliminary inquiry into the irregularities in the Kikvi and Kanchanpur irrigation projects.

Acting on the court directives, the state government on Wednesday appointed a 3-member probe committee comprising members of the Maharashtra Water Resources Board A S Nanaware and Khalil Ansari and Chief Engineer of the hydroelectric and quality control department R V Panse. The committee would primarily look into the irrigation projects cleared between 2007 and 2013.

The committee would also look into specific charges of advances being paid to the contractors, payments being made without work being completed and non-adherence to the standard procedures while clearing projects; the panel will file its report within three months, as per the court directives.

Most of the projects where inquiry has been ordered were cleared by Ajit Pawar during his tenure as irrigation minister. Sharad Pawar, along with his predecessor Sunil Tatkare, are already in the ring of fire and facing an ACB inquiry for irregularities in 12 irrigation projects in the Konkan region.

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