The Enforcement Director (ED) has launched an investigation into money laundering allegations against various corporations of the Maharashtra Irrigation Department for alleged irregularities in 12 projects under the Vidwar Irrigation Development Corporation. Those who are aware of this have reported the matter.
An ED official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “Between 2009 and 2009, contracts for dam projects and administrative approvals have been amended by officials from the Birwar Irrigation Development Corporation, Krishna Valley Irrigation Project and Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation.” Claimed bills paid by concerned contractors.
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Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar may become a suspect in the investigation after the department revealed irregularities in 2012. Power was the Minister of Water Resources from 1999 to 2009. In December last year, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) gave a clean chit to the Deputy CM, against whom an affidavit was filed in the High Court on November 27. The government was formed on 26 November.
The probe is linked to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Bikash Agradi (MVA) government, which has directed an investigation into former chief minister Devendra Fardnavis’ water conservation project, the Jaliyukta Shibhar campaign.
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The case comes just weeks after Powers and others were given a clean chit by the Economic Crimes Branch (EW) of the Mumbai Police for allegedly embezzling Rs 25,000 crore from the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank. EOW filed a closure report last month, calling it a civil case. The EC has opposed the EW’s move in court.
Power ED, which visited flood-hit areas in Solapur and Pune districts on Saturday, declined to comment on the investigation, saying no investigation had been ordered into the forged Shivhar. He said, “Some ministers in the cabinet have raised the issue that if the CAG itself raises questions about (forged Shivahar), then the ambitious project which cost crores of rupees should be scrutinized. So the chief minister is open about it through a Special Investigation Team (SIT).” “There is no feeling against anyone in this regard,” Powell told reporters.
Shiv Sena leader and one of the architects of the three-party alliance, Sanjay Raut, declined to comment on the probe. “It would not be right for me to answer this. The state government will respond. I know that the investigating agency of the state government has given clarification,” he said.