The political leaders who were accused by social activist Medha Patkar of having received bribe from firms involved in irrigation projects have rubbished the allegations.
Former minister of state for water resources Sunil Deshmukh (Congress), NCP leader Ajit Pawar and BJP leader Gopinath Munde have denied the allegations, while BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari refuted the charge on behalf of former BJP president Nitin Gadkari.
Medha had alleged that evidence regarding the ‘speed money’ were collected by the Income Tax Department during search operations at the residence of Dhirendra Bhat, the technical director in one of the firms in 2009. Records show that expenses to the tune of `43.84 crore were unexplained.
The firms Mahalaxmi Infrastructure and D P Patil that were involved in the Gosi Khurd dam project at Bhandara had paid money to the politicians and these facts were found entered on documents, diaries and loose sheets of paper with initials such as ‘Dada’ and ‘AP’, ‘SD’, ‘GAD’ and ‘MG’. These documents are part of the assessment report prepared by the Kolhapur circle of the IT in 2011.
Medha Patkar said that ‘Dada’ and ‘AP’ indicated Ajit Pawar who was the then Irrigation Minister, while ‘SD’ denoted Sunil Deshmukh, the former minister of state for water resources, ‘GAD’ for Nitin Gadkari as this is the name used in other entries and ‘MG’ denoted Munde.
Patkar on Thursday had said that entries showed `27.5 crore was given to Ajit Pawar, while `50 lakh to Gadkari, `20 lakh to Munde and `50 lakh to Deshmukh. The payments were made during the pre-tendering process to secure the contract.