MUMBAI: The ED is set to expand its money laundering probe into multiple irrigation projects in Maharashtra, undertaken during the Congress-led Democratic Front government, to investigate alleged financial irregularities in their implementation.
The agency, officials said, has recently written to the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to share with it all its official documents and charge sheets in the Balganga dam and irrigation project, where it is alleged that financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 93 crore took place.
Some senior politicians, including ministers in the previous government, are under the scanner of the ACB and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in this case.
They said the central probe agency is also looking at investigating few other irrigation projects of the state, based on the findings of the ACB and its own. The ED had registered a criminal case in the Balganga project in 2015 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The central probe agency, the officials said, has also sought the "joint survey" report of the project site at Balganga including "cost and material estimation" related findings of this project by the ACB. The inputs received from the ACB will be analysed and the investigation in this case and few other irrigation projects in the state will be probed thoroughly, they said. The ED has also sought the statements of the accused and others recorded by the ACB in this case till now. The Balganga dam project has been executed in the Raigad district of the state on a river with the same name. The ED case was registered after taking cognizance of the ACB filing criminal offences against 11 persons, including six officials of Maharashtra irrigation department. The Maharashtra ACB, acting on the state government's directives, had conducted an open inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the dam works implemented by Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC). The ACB had said it has established irregularities to the tune of Rs 92,63,42,110 in this case. After the irrigation department decided to build a dam on Balganga river at Pen, tenders for the same were called in 2009. The other irrigation projects under the scanner of the ED include those in Kondhane and Kalu, and the probe agency suspects alleged money laundering in the implementation of these projects by way of false cost escalation.