The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has initiated an investigation into allegations of money laundering against various corporations of Maharashtra Irrigation Department in connection with alleged irregularities in 12 projects under Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation. Those aware of this matter have told this.
An ED official said on the condition of anonymity, ‘Contracts for Dam Projects from the officials of Water Resources Department, revised administrative approval, from Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation, Krishna Valley Irrigation Project and Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation between 1999 and 2009. Have demanded bills paid to the associated contractors.
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The investigation may bring Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in doubt after irregularities in the department surfaced in 2012. Pawar was the Minister of Water Resources between 1999 and 2009. In December last year, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) gave a clean chit to the deputy CM, against which an affidavit was filed in the High Court on 27 November. The government was formed on 28 November.
The investigation has links with the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, which ordered an inquiry into the Jalyukt Shivhar Abhiyan, a water conservation project of former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
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The case comes weeks after Pawar and others were given a clean chit by the Mumbai Police’s Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) in connection with irregularities in Maharashtra State Cooperative Banks worth 25,000 crore. The EOW filed a closure report in the case last month, calling it a civil case. The ED has opposed the move of the EOW in the court.
Pawar, who was visiting flood-affected areas of Solapur and Pune districts on Saturday, refused to comment on the ED’s investigation and said that no inquiry was ordered into Jalyukt Shivhar. He said, “Some ministers in the cabinet raised issues that if the CAG itself raised questions on it (Jalyukta Shivhar), the ambitious project on which crores were spent should be investigated. Therefore, the Chief Minister has ordered an open investigation on it through a Special Investigation Team (SIT). “There is no feeling against anyone in this,” Pawar told reporters.
Sanjay Raut, a Shiv Sena leader and one of the architects of the three-party alliance, declined to comment on the investigation. He said, “It would not be right for me to answer this.” The state government will answer this. I know that the investigating agencies of the state government have given clarification. ”