Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Irrigation Scam of Maharashtra: Babus too were involved in canal scam: Patkar

They, along with politicians, received bribe of R200 cr, says NGO
MUMBAI: Apart from exposing the state’s top politicians including deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and senior BJP and Congress leaders, the income tax assessment documents furnished by Medha Patkar-led NGO National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) have also disclosed the alleged involvement of several senior bureaucrats, including officials from the environment and forests ministry, in receiving speed money from some of the state’s biggest irrigation projects.

The total value of the speed money earned by politicians and officials from the contractors for undertaking work in Ghoshikurd, Tembhu and another unnamed project, add up to almost Rs 200 crore.

When contacted, politicians dismissed Patkar’s charges as baseless.

NAPM made the allegations on Thursday based on an IT assessment report of 2011of Mahalaxmi Infra projects Limited (MIL), one of the big irrigation contractors in the state.

The offices of MIL and residences of its directors were raided between 2009 and 2011 and several documents including diaries were seized.

“Besides top politicians, there are names of several department staffers and other bureaucrats, whose names appeared in the assessment documents. There is a clear nexus between the politicians, government officials and contractors,” said NAPM’s national convener Patkar.

She said some officials from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) received ‘speed money’ up to Rs 12.5 lakh. The documents also disclosed that a payment of Rs 1.5 crore was made to ‘Kale’ as part of the work of the right bank canal project of the Ghosikhurd.

The state’s irrigation scam including blatant costs escalations of projects and illegalities centre on an unholy officials-contractors-politicians nexus. The allegations led to Pawar’s resignation last year.

Dismissing the charges of earning Rs 27.5 crore as part of the projects, deputy CM Ajit Pawar said: “I do not accept these allegations because I am in no way linked to these dealings. I completely negate these charges levelled by NAPM against me.”

Rejecting the allegation of earning Rs 75 lakh as bribe, former Congress leader Sunil Deshmukh said, “At the time this IT raid was conducted, I was not even in the department.”

NAPM’S ALLEGATIONS : BACKGROUNDThe Medha Patkar-led NGO National Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM) had alleged that politicians had received kickbacks to the tune of Rs200 crore in some of the state’s biggest irrigation projects

NAPM made these allegations on Thursday on the basis of an IT assessment report of 2011 of Mahalaxmi Infra projects Limited (MIL), one of the big irrigation contractors in the state

The details of the money trail made during the pretendering process of the project was revealed through diaries and papers seized from DA Bhat, one of the directors of MIL.
Rs 44 crore: was siphoned off for the Ghosikhurd project
Rs 109 crore: was paid for the Tembhu project
Rs 92 crore: for an unnamed project

AJIT PAWAR, deputy chief minister was referred to as AP or Dada in the documents: Rs 27.5 crore

NITIN GADKARI, former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief, referred to as GAD: Rs 50 lakh

GOPINATH MUNDE, BJP general secretary, referred to as MG in the documents: Rs 20 lakh

SUNIL DESHMUKH, former Congress minister, referred to as SD in documents: Rs 75 lakh

Unnamed officials from the environment ministry received R12.5 lakh in kickbacks
20 Apr 2013
Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
HT Correspondent htmetro@hindustantimes.com

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