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Oct 07, 2012 at 04:40pm IST

Maharashtra irrigation scam: Probe ordered against VIDC officials, says Prithviraj Chavan

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has ordered an enquiry against 45 senior officials of the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Council (VIDC) in connection with the multi-crore irrigation scam.

Chavan, who was in Thane on Sunday, confirmed that he had approved the probe while denying that there was a delay of two years in taking the decision.

The engineers, including VIDC's former chief executive director DP Shirke, will now face probe on several counts including having turned a blind eye to government norms while clearing cost escalations, not supervising works on site and not following tender conditions.

The one-man Vadnere committee was set up in March 2010 following complaints and media reports over cost escalations, and official-contractor-politician nexus in approving projects in Vidarbha.

Chavan said that the Industrial Policy of the state will come out only after a few issues relating to the SEZ are clarified by the Centre.

He said the policy itself was ready but certain issues relating to the SEZ need clarification from the Centre and only after that is received the policy would be released and implemented. This will happen soon, he said.

To a question regarding the bifurcation of Thane district, he said the issue was in the agenda of the state government and will surely happen, but did not specify time frame for the same.

When asked about the issue of the six co-operative banks on which action was being contemplated, Chavan said he was in contact with the RBI and also Finance Minister P Chidambaram in this regard.

On the industries facing several issues in Thane as a result of which the labour force was in a fix, he said the issue was also being taken care of by the state government and it will be ensured that the workforce does not suffer.

CNN-IBN had first reported how close to 8000 irrigation projects were pending, and Rs 70,000 crore were spent on these projects over a decade with only a 0.01 per cent increase in irrigated area. Ajit Pawar had held the irrigation portfolio between 1999 and 2009.

According to the documents with CNN-IBN, in the months leading up the state assembly elections in 2009, then irrigation minister Ajit Pawar gave, what sources say are illegal clearances for as many as 32 projects between June and August. The green signal was given without mandatory clearance from the governing council of the VIDC.

With Additional Inputs From PTI