Four years after THE WEEK exposed an irrigation scam in Maharashtra with evidence, sequence and modus operandi, Anti-Corruption Bureau in Thane finally registered an FIR against the contractors and six irrigation officers on Saturday.
The FIR mentions:
♦ The tender process was rigged
♦ The contractor was allowed to start the work without getting environmental permission and other mandatory permissions
♦ Tender process was a complete fraud
THE WEEK had first exposed this scam in August 2012. The ACB will also be probing into the role of Sunil Tatkare, former minister for water resources.
In 2011, the then Governor had issued clear directives to stop all new large and medium irrigation projects until the ongoing projects were completed. Only small irrigation projects were allowed to be undertaken in view of the backlog in irrigation in some areas of Maharashtra. The directive had categorically stated that all projects meant for catering to 250 hectares and above should be kept on hold.
The nexus of officials, contractors and politicians found a way out to overcome the restrictions set by this directive. The first was Kondhane dam. It was initially a medium scale project but was scaled down into a project for 240 hectares and got sanction. The sanction came from five different offices in four districts within four hours on the same day. Then the scope and the height of the dam was increased within one month taking the project cost from Rs 56 crores to Rs 614 crores in a span of one year. ACB feels that this couldn't have been possible without the consent of the then minister and hence, his role too will be investigated in the coming days.
Nisar Khatri, the contractor, had filed the tenders for Kondhane dam on behalf of three firms from his Khar office. The firms that filled the tenders were M/s. F.A. Constructions, M/s. F.A. Enterprises and M/s.A.B.Naggi Reddy. THE WEEK's story had exposed all these facts with documentary evidence. ACB will be probing into the other projects mentioned in the story in the coming days.