Minister admits irregularities in ‘Jalyukta Shivar’ scheme

Mumbai: Maharashtra minister Tanaji Sawant on Monday admitted that there have been irregularities in as many as 1,300 works under the government's flagship 'Jalyukta Shivar' water conservation programme.

The water conservation minister was responding to a question raised by NCP member Vidya Chavan in the state Legislative Council. “Complaints have been filed with the water conservation department about irregularities in some 1,300 works under the Jalyukta Shivar scheme.

Prima facie, there is truth in those complaints,” Sawant said in the House. “The water conservation department has sought an open inquiry in this matter, and it is being conducted by joint director for water and soil conservation,” he added.

Leader of Opposition in the House Dhananjay Munde then demanded an inquiry by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in these 1,300 works allotted under the scheme.

However, Sawant rejected the demand for an ACB probe, citing that the issue was "technically critical".Munde then said two separate agencies can continue parallel probes without affecting the investigation's pace. "The minister cannot reject the demand for probe when there has been an official complaint against such works," he said.

Council Chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar then intervened and cited some previous cases where parallel probes were conducted by different agencies. Nimbalkar later asked the state government to submit its response in the House before the end of the ongoing monsoon session.

Notably, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis last year also admitted that scams did take place in the execution of the 'Jalyukt Shivar' scheme, but said action was taken in such cases.

The government's ambitious scheme involves deepening and widening of streams, construction of cement and earthen stop dams, and digging of farm ponds, to make the state free of drought.

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