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Updated on: Sunday, December 15, 2019, 02:29 PM IST

Right before Assembly polls, Fadnavis' cabinet invoked contentious clause 38 to pay irrigation contractors

Clause 38 is an instrument for the government to sanction payments in urgent need during execution, however, the provision has been liberally misused in the past.
Former Maharashtra CM and opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis arrives for the Business Adivsory  Committee meeting at State Vidhan Bhawan in Mumbai, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019.  | Photo by PTI

Former Maharashtra CM and opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis arrives for the Business Adivsory Committee meeting at State Vidhan Bhawan in Mumbai, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. | Photo by PTI

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Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has stayed former CM Fadnavis’ contentious provision to regularise payments for additional works accounting to hundreds of crores of rupees to irrigation contractors across Maharashtra.

According to a report by the Indian Express, Fadnavis’ Cabinet invoked Clause 38 of the Schedule of Rates in a meeting on September 9 for irrigation works. The cabinet permitted the use of the states’ Water Resources Department to bear the responsibilities towards the all additional work undertaken in 39 dam contracts. The cabinet also sanctioned extra items that weren’t a part of the original contract.

Months before Fadnavis took charge as CM, in August 2014, the government had suspended the use of the provisions after the investigation in the irrigation scam from during the Congress-NCP government alleged misuse of the provisions.

Fadnavis, who was then in the opposition had opposed the alleged misuse quite vocally. The September 9 meeting was the last meeting before the model code of conduct for the Assembly elections kicked in.

The move was brought under scrutiny in December after the current CM Uddhav Thackeray’s cabinet received the confirmation of the minutes of the meeting. Two ministers had objected against the bulk sanctioning without a formal cabinet note.

Clause 38 is an instrument for the government to sanction payments in urgent need during execution, however, the provision has been liberally misused in the past.

When contacted by the Indian Express, Fadnavis said that the move was treated as a special case to speed-up the ongoing projects. He argued saying, “It was a sort of fait accompli. None of these contracts were awarded during my term. These were all awarded during the Congress-NCP regime. We had to invoke the provisions to regularise the additional liabilities already incurred on the projects to put them back on track and avoid further cost escalations.”

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Published on: Sunday, December 15, 2019, 02:29 PM IST
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