Ir­ri­ga­tion scam: Wa­ter dept view could de­cide Ajit Pawar’s fate

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Ke­taki Ghoge ke­taki.ghoge@hin­dus­tan­times.com

What role did for­mer deputy chief min­is­ter Ajit Pawar play in com­mis­sion­ing and grant­ing ap­provals for the Bal­ganga dam project in Raigad that has cost the state ex­che­quer a loss of Rs1,105 crore? And did the for­mer min­is­ter’s de­ci­sions fol­low the rules?

Th­ese are the key ques­tions be­fore the anti-cor­rup­tion bureau (ACB), in its probe against Pawar in the Bal­ganga dam. Pawar was the wa­ter re­sources min­is­ter when the project was cleared.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors have now asked the state’s wa­ter re­sources depart­ment to clar­ify its rules of busi­ness, specif­i­cally the way in which the files were routed. The wa­ter re­sources depart­ment’s re­ply could de­cide the ac­tion to be taken against Pawar.

The ACB charge sheet ac­cessed by HT tells a sor­did story of how pub­lic money has been swin­dled in the con­struc­tion of the dam. But while it nails con­trac­tors and of­fi­cials, it has stopped short of link­ing the ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties to Pawar.

“Be­fore mak­ing charges against such a big man, we have to be clear that they will stand le­gal scru­tiny. We wrote a let­ter on July 27 to the wa­ter re­sources depart­ment seek­ing its opin­ion on gov­ern­ment rules, to probe if the pol­icy de­ci­sions taken by Pawar were in line with ex­ist­ing norms and his pow­ers or can be con­strued as mis­use of po­si­tion,’’ said an in­ves­ti­ga­tor as­so­ci­ated with the case.

De­pend­ing on the re­ply, the ACB will probe fur­ther and file sup­ple­men­tary charges. The spe­cific ar­eas where Pawar’s role is be­ing probed in­clude up­dat­ing ten­der cost by 40% and grant­ing a Rs25 crore mo­bil­i­sa­tion ad­vance to the con­trac­tor.

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