Principal Secretary (WRD) sitting on approval for FIRs in irrigation scam
   Date :03-Nov-2019
 Gosikhurd irrigation project. 
By Dheeraj Fartode :
IN A shocking revelation in the multi-crore irrigation scam, Principal Secretary of Water Resources Department (WRD) has been found sitting on seven proposals from the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of filing First Investigation Reports (FIRs) against senior government officials of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC). The ACB needs a normative approval of Principal Secretary of WRD under Section 17 (a) of Prevention of Corruption Act (PC Act) for filing of FIR and sanction under Section 19 (A) of PC Act from the Principal Secretary of WRD and Accountant General (AG) Maharashtra-2 for initiating judicial proceedings against government official after registration of FIR.
“The Principal Secretary (WRD) has not given approval since August 2018 for filing of FIRs,” Superintendent of Police, Anti-Corruption Bureau Rashmi Nandedkar revealed on Saturday. “We are conducting inquiry into 302 irrigation contracts allotted for 17 irrigation projects by VIDC, including 195 contracts allotted for Gosikhurd irrigation project,” Nandedkar said. The ACB has divided investigation of Gosikhurd irrigation project in two stages — Stage-1: Contracts worth more than Rs 25 crore; Stage-2 : Contracts worth between Rs 1 crore and 25 crore. The ACB has identified 40 contracts for investigation under first stage and registered 20 FIRs after finding irregularities. Of them, four are under trial in the court, one was discharged, and four are pending with investigation officer. Principal Secretary (WRD) had given conditional sanction in 11 cases.
As a case related to irrigation scam is pending with the High Court, police can take action in these 11 cases after disposal of this case. However, AG Maha-2 has not yet given any approval for starting judicial proceedings against the accused. Of remaining 20 pending cases, the ACB has sent proposals in seven cases to Principal Secretary (WRD) for its approval for filing of FIRs. These proposals were sent in August 2018. However, senior officials of WRD have not yet given approval to ACB for further action. The ACB has not found anything wrong in nine cases and four are still under investigation. In stage two in Gosikhurd irrigation project, the ACB is investigating 155 tender cases. Of them, nine cases were sent to WRD for Departmental Action (DA), 12 were sent to SP ACB for scrutiny and 134 are pending with investigation team of ACB.
The ACB had started scrutiny of 1,455 contracts allotted by VIDC for 16 irrigation projects. Of them, 651 would not be investigated as time period of inspection has lapsed. Remaining contracts include, 561 contracts of below Rs one crore, 105 contracts between Rs one crore and three crore, 84 contracts of Rs three crore to Rs 10 crore, 17 contracts of Rs 10 crore and Rs 25 crore and 37 contracts of more than Rs 25 crore. After scrutinising above contracts, the ACB had decided to investigation 107 contracts cases and 10 were closed as there was no evidence of malpractice. A total of 14 cases were filed to Headquarters for Departmental Inquiry while six were sent to SP ACB for scrutiny. As many as 77 contract cases are pending with ACB for inquiry.