The Maharashtra cabinet on Tuesday scrapped 94 tenders of irrigation projects worth Rs 6,000 crore on the ground that the projects are under scanner in connection with a multi-crore irrigation scam.
These tenders were invited during the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government. During the coalition’s 15-year rule, NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and his deputy Sunil Tatkare held the lucrative water resources portfolio.
The scrapping of tenders comes as a huge blow to Ajit Pawar, who allegedly approved these projects by tweaking rules and without clearance from the Governing Council of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC).
The cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, directed the water resources department to invite fresh tenders to complete these projects in a time-bound manner.
Of the 94 tenders, 81 tenders were floated for the Gosi-Khurd project in Vidharbha, one for a project in Nashik district and the remaining for 12 projects in Konkan region.
According to a senior government official, a high-level committee had cited the irregularities in the tenders issued for the Gosi-Khurd project. The Maharashtra Anti Corruption Bureau is still probing the case. The cost of the project was revised from Rs 5,600 crore in 2007 to Rs 18,472 crore in 2016.
However, this is not the first instance of the government cracking down on irrigation projects sanctioned by ministers of the former Congress-NCP government. Earlier, 128 projects with collective budget of Rs 624.28 crore were scrapped by the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government.