MUMBAI: Two days after the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) questioned senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare, in connection with the irrigation scam, BJP MP Kirit Somaiya on Friday alleged that they had received a kickback of `800 crore in lieu of awarding the contract of an irrigation project in Konkan.
Somaiya has dashed off letters to Union Finance Secretary and the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India seeking a thorough inquiry into the financial transactions made by the contractor F A Constructions.
“F A Constructions had withdrawn `800 crore in cash from the Union Bank of India. This money was invested in 308 benami/bogus companies established by Pawar and Tatkare. It is nothing but a bribe. In return, the duo allowed F A Constructions to hike the cost of Kondhane irrigation project... that runs into several hundreds of crores,” Somaiya said.
“A company needs permission to withdraw such a huge cash from the bank account. I have demanded to conduct an inquiry whether F A Constructions had the requisite permission. Also I have demanded an inquiry into the conduct of Union Bank of India officials too,” Somaiya said.
The NCP has refuted Somaiya’s allegations. The party spokesperson Nawab Malik called Somaiya an “item girl of politics” who levels baseless allegations to catch attention of the political strata.
When asked for his comment on the scam, Tatkare said, “The truth will come out in the ACB’s investigation.”
The scam in the state’s irrigation sector came to light after then Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan publicly admitted that the state’s irrigation capacity had increased by only 0.1 per cent a decade in spite of spending `70,000 crore. Pawar was the Water Resources Minister in this period. Tatkare, now the state NCP president, succeeded him after Pawar took charge of the Power and Energy departments in 2010. Pawar stands accused of allowing the contractors to hike the project’s cost, bypassing the rules.