Mumbai, 20 July-2014(PTI): The Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) and…
Mumbai: Ketaki Ghoge, Twenty months after the Devendra Fadnavis government initiated an open inquiry in the multi-crore irrigation scam, the
state cabinet on Tuesday scrapped 94 tenders of 14 scam-tainted irrigation projects worth Rs9,196 crore. Around 52 of these tenders are under the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) scanner, with first information reports (FIRs) filed in four of them.
The cabinet move is being viewed as the first tough decision of the BJP government against Maharashtra’s influential irrigation contractor lobby, which includes some firms associated with its own leaders — MP Ajay Sancheti and MLC Mitesh Bhangadia.
However, a stronger political message has been sent to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, who had so far controlled the irrigation contractor lobby.
“The government will rely on the Indian Contract Act, 1972, and get an opinion from the law and judiciary to cancel these tenders. All these cancelled tenders will be re-tendered and finished in a time bound manner,” said water resources minister Girish Mahajan.
The state cabinet also approved a whopping cost escalation of Rs12,835 crore for the Gosikhurd project by granting it a third revised administrative approval, a hike of more than 50 times since the project was first cleared in 1982 at the cost of Rs372 crore. The government said 90% of the project cost of Rs18,494 crore will come from the Centre, since it has been tagged as a national project.
Meanwhile, the cancelled tenders include all 12 Konkan irrigation projects — Balganga, Kondhane, Kalu, Shai, Susari, Gadgadi, Shirshinge, Chanera, Shil, Jamda, Kal and Gadnadi — that were cleared in gross violation of existing tender norms, environment laws and saw arbitrary cost escalations. All these tenders were given to firms owned by the Khatri family, FA Constructions and FA Enterprises, considered to be close to the NCP.