Irrigation scam: HC seeks govt's reply on CBI probe

Irrigation scam: HC seeks govt's reply on CBI probe

Bombay High Court.

The Bombay High Court on Monday sought a response from the Maharashtra government on a plea demanding a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged multi-crore Vidarbha irrigation scam.

The petitioners, Atul Jagtap and NGO Janmanch, filed an application last week before the Nagpur bench of the high court seeking transfer of probe in the scam from the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to the CBI.

The ACB, in its affidavit submitted to the high court last month, gave a clean chit to NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who was then chairman of the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC).

A bench of Justices Z A Haq and M G Giratkar on Monday asked the state government to file its affidavit in response to the application by January 15.

The ACB, in its affidavit submitted in the high court last month, ruled out Pawar's involvement in cases of alleged irregularities in approval and commissioning of irrigation projects in the Vidarbha region.

Pawar, the NCP MLA from Baramati in Pune district, was water resources minister during 1999-2009 when the Congress- NCP combine was in power in Maharashtra.

He had also served as chairman of VIDC, which cleared the irrigation projects in which irregularities were alleged.

The scam, pegged at around Rs 70,000 crore, pertains to alleged corruption, cost escalations and irregularities in approval and execution of various irrigation projects during the Congress-NCP rule.

The allegations against Pawar included claims that he awarded projects at inflated prices.

Last month, Pawar rebelled against his party and joined hands with the BJP to form a short-lived government in Maharashtra where he was deputy chief minister for just three days. He later resigned and returned to the NCP fold.

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