NCP alleges Rs 40,000 crore 'irrigation scam' in Maharashtra, questions approvals for cost escalations
The NCP on Thursday alleged that there was a 'scam' of Rs 40,000 crore in the Maharashtra irrigation department, pointing to administrative approvals for cost escalation.
Mumbai: The NCP on Thursday alleged that there was a "scam" of Rs 40,000 crore in the Maharashtra irrigation department, adding the BJP-led government, during the last three years, gave revised administrative approvals for cost escalation in 307 projects.
"While in the opposition, the BJP, led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis opposed hikes in project costs due to administrative approvals," NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.
"But nothing changed after the BJP came to power three years ago. BJP then criticised our (Congress-NCP) government opposing administrative approvals for irrigation projects to revise the costs," Malik told reporters.
"We demand that Fadnavis clarify why the revised administrative approvals were given during the last three years in his tenure as chief minister. We are saying this is a scam using the same yardstick he (Fadnavis) had used while in opposition," Malik said.
"In the last three years, 307 projects were given revised administrative approval worth Rs 40,000 crore," Malik, former minister, claimed.
For central irrigation projects worth Rs 20,000 crore under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme, the state was to bear 40 per cent and Centre 60 per cent of the total cost, he said.
"The Fadnavis government sent a revised administrative approval proposal of Rs 12,000 crore to the Centre which was rejected. Fadnavis should clarify what led to the rejection," Malik said.
Girish Mahajan, the state's water resources minister, was unavailable for reaction to the NCP leader's allegations.
Malik also opposed the BJP-led government's decision to reinstate senior bureaucrat Radheyshyam Mopalwar as the Managing Director of Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).
Mopalwar, an IAS officer, was sent on leave in August after allegations of bribery and was removed as the MSRDC MD over audio clips in which he was purportedly heard fixing a deal for a plot.
"Mopalwar has been tasked to look after the Samruddhi corridor which links Mumbai to Nagpur. The 'Samruddhi' (prosperity) is not of the state but of ruling BJP leaders and corrupt officials who purchased land from farmers along the route before the project was announced and now are selling it at market price," Malik said.
The NCP spokesperson also alleged that the "Samruddhi project" was the biggest scam of the government.
"Mopalwar will handle the Samruddhi project despite the taint on him. The project is the biggest scam of this government...In the last three years, allegations of corruption were made against 18 ministers in the state government, but Fadnavis gave clean chit to all," he said.
A retired bureaucrat was tasked with inquiry against Mopalwar after the audio tapes surfaced but it should have been either a judicial inquiry or one by the Anti-Corruption Bureau. We will continue to pursue the case against Mopalwar," he said.
The Samruddhi corridor is a 700-km expressway connecting Mumbai with Nagpur. The Rs 46,000 crore project, a pet project of Fadnavis, also proposes the development of various nodes along the expressway.
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