No Need of CBI Probe in Irrigation Scam: Maharashtra Govt

The Maharashtra government has said in its affidavit before the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court that there was no need for a CBI probe into the alleged irrigation scam as an SIT had already been set up.

Responding to a plea filed by a city-based NGO Jan Manch, which sought a CBI probe into the scam, the state government recently filed a fresh affidavit before the court pointing out that an SIT, headed by Madhav Chitale, an irrigation expert from Pune, has already been formed to probe the scam.

"The SIT will serve the purpose and hence there is no need for another investigation agency to probe into the irregularities," the state government mentioned in the affidavit and urged the court to dispose of the petition.

The High Court bench here today asked a city-based NGO to file within four weeks a fresh rejoinder over its petition in connection with the alleged multi-crore irrigation scam in Maharashtra, within four weeks.

Jan Manch had filed a PIL in the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court last month seeking a CBI probe into the case.

"A probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the alleged irregularities and corruption in the state Irrigation Department is not enough and hence there is a need to carry out proper criminal investigation in this regard," it had urged in its petition.

A division bench, comprising, Justice A P Lavande and Justice Arun Choudhari today gave four weeks' time to the petitioner to file a rejoinder on the fresh affidavit of the state government.

The NGO, in its PIL, has described the entire scam as a "criminal conspiracy to play a fraud on the Constitution and deprive Vidarbha of its legitimate due". 

"This broad daylight robbery is responsible for Vidarbha's irrigation backlog, parched fields and agrarian crisis," the petition alleged.

Given the magnitude of the scam, a mere departmental inquiry is insufficient and officials and top authorities responsible for causing such a massive financial loss must face criminal prosecution, the PIL had demanded.

The beneficiary contractors should be blacklisted and entire public money given to them as largess should be recovered from them, the PIL claimed.

The PIL also claimed that within a span of just seven months in 2009, the cost of 38 irrigation projects under Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation escalated to a whopping Rs 26,722.33 crore from Rs 6,672.27-crore.

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