Maharashtra irrigation scam inquiry shut 48 hours after Ajit Pawar allies with BJP: All you need to know about case

Here is all you need to know about the infamous Maharashtra irrigation scam, in which NCP leader Ajit Pawar was allegedly involved.

FP Staff November 25, 2019 15:51:35 IST
Maharashtra irrigation scam inquiry shut 48 hours after Ajit Pawar allies with BJP: All you need to know about case

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on 12 December, 2014 when the Devendra Fadnavis government approved an ACB probe into the Rs 70,000-crore scam. It is being updated and republished in light of the case being shut 48 hours after Pawar being sworn in as Maharashtra deputy chief minister.

Back in December 2012, NCP leader Ajit Pawar was facing tough times after then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis gave his assent for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to conduct an inquiry into the irrigation scam. Even as Pawar said that he was not affected by the government's decision to probe the scam, the fresh probe threatened to take away the immunity Pawar got when he was given a clean chit by the earlier Maharashtra government.

So what is the whole scam about?

The entire scam was brought to light back in 2012 when Vijay Pandhare, the then chief engineer in the water resources department, wrote letters to the Maharashtra chief minister and governor pointing out the irregularities and cost variation in irrigation projects.

It was alleged that Ajit Pawar, who was Water Resources Minister between 1999 and 2009, had approved 38 projects worth Rs 20,000 crore in 2009 by tweaking rules and without clearance of Governing Council of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC).

Maharashtra irrigation scam inquiry shut 48 hours after Ajit Pawar allies with BJP All you need to know about case

Ajit Pawar could be in fresh trouble with the inquiry into the irrigation scam. PTI

Moreover, despite huge expenditure, it appeared that there was no significant rise in irrigated land in the state. The percentage of irrigation potential had increased by just 0.1 percent in past ten years, despite an expenditure of Rs 70,000 crores on such projects.

The furor led to the resignation of Ajit Pawar.

Later on in 2012, the then Maharashtra government, led by Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan, had tabled a white paper on the issue in the Maharashtra Assembly, giving a clean chit to Pawar. After the clean chit, Pawar was brought back in the Maharashtra cabinet.

Both the NCP and Congress had to face a lot of flak for both the scam and the move to reinstate Pawar as Deputy CM. The opposition BJP accused the then CM Chavan of staging a cover-up under main ally NCP's pressure.

Soon after the white paper released by the Maharashtra government, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal released a "black paper on irrigation" to counter the white paper released by the government.

The "black paper" had claimed that the cost per hectare for bringing land under irrigation in Maharashtra is the highest in the country and probably in the world.

"The gross irrigated area has increased by a mere 8.9 percent in spite of an annual expenditure of Rs 7,000 crore, amounting to a staggering Rs 70,000 crore. That means expenditure of Rs 21.67 lakh per hectare, which is in gross violation as the limit mandated by the Central Water Commission of Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh per hectare," said Kejriwal's "black paper".

Kejriwal had also said that the white paper was a complete eyewash and was meant only to absolve the guilty.

In December 2012, the Maharashtra government announced a probe by Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the scam. The SIT, headed by water resources expert Madhav Chitale, submitted the report on the multi-crore irrigation scam to former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan in March 2014.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India in April 2013 had also pulled up the Maharashtra government for hundreds of incomplete irrigation projects across the state with massive cost overruns amounting to around Rs 27,000 crores, according to this Firstpost article.

Pandhare, who was responsible for exposing the scam, joined the AAP in December 2013.

Follow all the LIVE updates from Maharashtra here

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

In Narendra Modi's condemnation of US Capitol siege lies coded message for India
India

In Narendra Modi's condemnation of US Capitol siege lies coded message for India

'The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests,' tweeted Narendra Modi in response to rioters storming the US Capitol in Washington, DC

Dhananjay Munde to continue as minister, despite rape charges, till police probe ends
India

Dhananjay Munde to continue as minister, despite rape charges, till police probe ends

Pawar added that the party has suggested that an ACP-rank woman police officer must be part of the team that will probe the allegations against Munde

Maharashtra Panchayat Election Results: NCP, BJP both claim to be single-largest party in rural body polls
India

Maharashtra Panchayat Election Results: NCP, BJP both claim to be single-largest party in rural body polls

The NCP has won 3,276 gram panchayats, the highest by a party, state minister Jayant Patil claimed. The opposition BJP has claimed it has won more than 6,000 gram panchayats