In a major decision, Maharashtra government on Tuesday decided to scrap 94 tenders in 14 irrigation projects in the Konkan and Nashik divisions which are under the Anti-Corruption Bureau’s scanner, a move viewed as a setback for NCP leader and former Water Resources Minister Ajit Pawar who allegedly approved them by tweaking norms.
This includes 81 various works related to Gosi-Khurd irrigation project in Vidarbha region, which has seen a massive cost escalation in last 35 years.
The decision to scrap the tenders was taken during a meeting of the state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The tenders were scrapped as they are under investigation by the ACB, a CMO official said.
The move is considered a blow to Pawar, who as Water Resources Minister between 1999 and 2009 approved projects worth Rs 20,000 crore, allegedly by tweaking rules and without a clearance of Governing Council of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC).
The 14 irrigation projects includes the controversial Kondhana dam in Karjat taluka in Raigad district, over which former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Anjali Damania had alleged a Rs 72,000 crore irrigation scam.
Addressing reporters at Mantralaya, Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan said the total cost of the scrapped tenders is about Rs 3,295 crore.
He said the government will float fresh tenders and the projects will be completed in a time-bound manner.
Mahajan said the Cabinet also gave its nod to third revised administrative approval to the Gosi-Khurd project.
He said the government will call for fresh bids and mandate to complete works on Gosi-Khurd project before June 2019.
“The cost of Gosi Khurd irrigation project which has been
tagged as a National Project has escalated to Rs 18,494 crore from its original cost of Rs 372 crore during last 35 years. The Cabinet today gave its nod to the third revised administrative approval to Gosi-Khurd project,” the minister said.
Mahajan said the Centre will share 90 per cent of the proposed project cost whereas state will share the rest, adding that the total cost escalation in Gosi-Khurd stands at Rs 3,544.95 crore now.
Referring to the decision to grant revised administrative approval to Gosi-Khurd, the minister said that approvals shall be given while ensuring that they won’t affect the ongoing ACB probe.