Maharashtra ACB gives clean chit to Ajit Pawar in Vidarbha irrigation scam
(PTI Photo/Shashank Parade)

Mumbai: Maharashtra's anti-corruption bureau (ACB) has cleared National Congress Party's leader Ajit Pawar of allegations in an irrigation scam case in an affidavit submitted in the court.

The 16-page affidavit, dated November 27 Nov 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 VIDC (Minister of WRD) in respect of the process of granting sanction. Minister of Water Resources Department is Ex-Officio Chairman of the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation.

"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.

In its enquiry report, the ACB has also stated that 'There is no evidence on record to say that the Secretary of the Department had briefed the Minister of Water Resources Department about not accepting the liability of the tender work'. The state anti-corruption bureau 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, who belongs to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), along with others, 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.

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