The Maharashtra irrigation scam that claimed the ministership of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar has taken a new dimension with the Central Water Commission (CWC) seeking information on the expenses incurred in relevant projects.
The CWC has sought expenditure statement of 17 irrigation projects undertaken in Maharashtra from the state Water Resources Ministry.
The 17 irrigation projects are worth `28,000 crore and were meant to provide succor to the severe drought-prone regions of the state.
According to state government sources, the CWC has sought information as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) wants to verify the allegations of irregularities in the irrigation projects.
The CWC has sought information about the expenses incurred by way of contracts of over `1 crore.
The details pertain to works awarded, commencement and completion of work, irrigation potential created, etc.
As far as the Irrigation Department is concerned ,this is the first time that the Centre has directly sought information about the projects funded by it.
However, even before the Centre wrote to the state, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had swung into action.
The CVC has already collected information from Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation, which is one of the five irrigation development corporations in the state.
The Irrigation Department has been with the NCP since 1999 and Ajit was the minister for the majority of years.
Besides being plagued by delays, the irrigation projects witnessed massive cost escalation without justification.
In two months between July to August in 2009, Ajit allegedly approved the cost escalations of `20,000 crore in 38 irrigation projects of the state.
Besides the probe by the Centre, Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan has also ordered a probe.