Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked Maharashtra government to clarify its position on Aruna dam scam, wherein the cost has escalated by almost 30 times the original amount. In 2005, cost of this project was estimated at Rs 54 crore, which skyrocketed to Rs 1,600 crore.
Division bench of Justices Ajay Gadkari and Nitin Jamdar heard a petition filed by residents of three villages of Nagpavadi, Agavane and Bhom from Vaibhavwadi in Sindhudurg, which are likely to be submerged. These among the 1,800 people who will be affected by the project and the government has not clarified the rehabilitation plans and work on this project has already begun.
Tanaji Kamble one of the residents of the affected village has filed this plea through his advocate Ashish Giri. Taking cognisance of this plea, the judges asked the state government to file a reply on June 17, which is the next date of the hearing.
In 2005, the irrigation department had approved this project and work began in 2007. In 2005, the state government had sanctioned Rs 54 crore for the project. However, the cost of this project has escalated to Rs 1600, of which Rs 1000 crore have already been spent.
In the last 14 years, the only work that has been done, is that the land has been acquired and levelled. A wall has been constructed at the slope. Kamble has questioned, ‘if the rehabilitation of villagers has not even started, where have these Rs 1000 crore gone?’ In his prayers, Kamble has asked for a judicial committee to be set up to inquire in this matter. According to the officials connected with this project have however refuted these claims.
“All the required permissions were sought and project affected people were rehabilitated and only after that was the work of the dam had begun,” stated in their reply. The official further stated, the PAPs were given temporary sheds with tin roofs in their villages in December 2018, which they could occupy until the end of May. The villagers have refused to do so.