State and Central government machineries have been struck down by corruption and scam reports time and again. The scale of these unearthed scams have left public in a state of tizzy as ministers keep indulging in such nefarious activities.
The state has witnessed a series of scams in last 25 years. Some of the scams have seen an involvement of politicians, leading to uproar in the Parliament and Assembly disturbing a complete session.
Here is an overview of some infamous scams that have hit the Maharashtra state over the last two decades.
Antulay Trust Scandal : Worth Rs 30 crore
Antulay trust Scandal, was a landmark case in pre-economic liberalised India. The Bombay High court had convicted him of money extortion from the Mumbai builders in the form of donations to Indira Gandhi Pristhan trust, one of several trust funds he had established and controlled, in exchange for receiving more cement than the quota allotted to them by the Government.
Antulay was forced to resign as Chief Minister of Maharashtra after the Bombay High Court convicted him of extortion on January 13, 1982. He had garnered Rs 30 crore from businesses dependent on state resources like cement, and kept the money in a private trust.
It was the era of the 'Licence Raj' and Antulay was found to have favoured the donors by allotting cement quotas, which were under government control.
When the scandal was exposed by media, Antulay was cornered and he had no option but to resign and went into oblivion.
Cobbler Scam: Worth Rs 1000 crore
The Cobbler Scam is one of the biggest multi million dollars scam in the Indian history, also known as 'The Great Cobbler Scam'. Various businessman and politicians had siphoned around Rs 1000 crore in this scam. The money of the scheme was meant to provide low interest loans and tax concessions to the Mumbai’s poorest – cobblers.
Sohin Daya, son of a former Sheriff of Mumbai, was the main accused in the multi-crore shoes scam. Daya of Dawood Shoes, Rafique Tejani of Metro Shoes, and Kishore Signapurkar of Milano Shoes were arrested for creating several leather co-operative societies which did not exist.
The modus operandi of the mastermind was to float a cooperative society of cobblers to avail of government loans through various schemes. Several bogus societies of cobblers were formed only for the purpose of availing these soft government loans.
The scam had cost the government around Rs 1200 crore, while the poor Cobblers of Mumbai were severely affected.
Stamp Paper Scam: Worth Rs 20,000 crore
The fake stamp and stamp paper scam, better known as the Telgi scam, had penetrated 12 states and was estimated at a whopping Rs 20,000 crore. Since 1992 and 2002 around 12 cases were registered against Telgi in the state, while 15 cases were registered across the country. The scam broke in late 90s and the Special Investigation Team was assigned the probe job. The biggest loser in the entire scenario was the nation who lost crores of rupees of revenue from stamp duty.
The mastermind of the scam, Abdul Karim Telgi, printed fake stamp papers with the help of some government officials of the Central governments Security Printing Press (India Security Press) located in Nashik. In may 2004, CBI seized fake stamp papers worth 1.5 crore rupees after custodial interrogation of Telgi.
Almost 11 years after the first case against Telgi was registered, special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Judge U.S. Salvi pronounced the guilty on seven counts: criminal conspiracy, counterfeiting government stamps and cheating, among others.
The special Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act court in Pune convicted 5 people and sentenced them to 10 more years of rigorous imprisonment in one of the scam cases filed against him in Mumbai in 2005.
Adarsh Housing Society Scam
Adarsh Housing Society is a cooperative society in the city of Mumbai. The building, which was originally meant to be a six-storey structure for Kargil war heroes and war widows, was converted into a 31-storey high-rise.
The origins of the scam go back to February 2000 when a request was made to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra to allot land in the heart of Mumbai for the construction of a housing complex for "the welfare of serving and retired personnel of the Defence Services.
In January 2011, the Maharashtra government set up a two-member judicial commission to inquire into the matter. The Inquiry commission was headed by retired High Court judge Justice J A Patil, with N N Kumbhar acting as member secretary. After deposing 182 witnesses over 2 years, the commission submitted its final report in April 2013 to the Maharashtra government.
The report highlighted 25 illegal allotments, including 22 purchases made by proxy. The report also indicted four former chief ministers of Maharashtra: Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil
In a relief to former Maharashtra chief minister Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar, the CBI gave him a clean chit.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar had sought to give a clean chit to Ashok Chavan, Congress leader and former Maharashtra chief minister, saying that "allotting a flat to a close relative" was not a scam.
Governor of Maharashtra K. Sankaranarayan; in a latest development rejected the proposal of Central Bureau of Investigations to grant sanction to prosecute former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.
Maharashtra Education Scam: Worth Rs 120 crore
The state government was conducting a statewide inspection to find the number of students on the rolls of state run and government aided schools and found many students on the rolls of state run and government aided schools are bogus.
Some divisions in schools altogether did not existed. In some places, same students were made to sit for the morning school and afternoon schools during the inspection.
A survey, conducted by the state government, showed that 1.4 lakh out of 7 lakh school students in the list of 3500 schools were bogus. The survey was carried out only in Nanded district of the state.
A whopping 1.4 lakh were found to be bogus, which means that the state handed over an extra unaccounted money for amount of Rs 120 crore to these schools. Later, the survey was being undertaken in almost all districts.
Maharashtra Irrigation Scam: Worth Rs 70,000 crore
The Maharashtra Irrigation Scam is an alleged government scam which involved financial irregularities of Rs 35000 crore in the Indian state of Maharashtra during 1999-2009. The scam involves misappropriation of funds meant for various projects. In 2012 after the Economic Survey of Maharashtra showed that the state’s irrigation potential had increased only 0.1 percentage points in 10 years. This was after investments totalling Rs 70,000 crore in various mega, medium and small irrigation projects.
Vijay Pandhare, Chief Engineer, Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation blew the whistle. He produced evidence to show that more than Rs 35,000 crore, which is half the total money spent, has been pocketed by the politician-bureaucrat-contractor nexus. He also highlighted the poor quality of work on a number of irrigation projects in Vidarbha.
The then water resources minister between 1999 and 2009, Ajit Pawar of the NCP came under attack both from opposition parties and from his government. In May 2012, Pawar resigned saying he would return to the cabinet only after his name was cleared through investigation. The opposition alleged that he ignored violation of rules in awarding contracts, due to which the investments up to Rs 42,000 crore in 10 years. The government published a white paper on irrigation projects along with cost escalation details and a status report. In three months, Pawar was re-inducted.
Recently, The BJP has demanded an independent investigation by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into alleged irregular financial transactions worth Rs 20,000 crore which fell outside the scope of the Chitale Committee, which probed the irrigation scam in Maharashtra.
Foddar Scam: Worth Rs 289 crore
Foddar scam is the Rs.289 crore scam that took place in Maharashtra’s Ahmadnagar district. Activist Anil Sharma had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the court claiming the state government had spent around Rs.389 crore towards fodder for cattle in camps run by it during the drought of 2012-13 in Ahmadnagar, but nearly Rs.289 crore had been siphoned off by those running the camps by overstating the number of cattle.
In 2013, The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court has asked the state police to register a first information report (FIR) in the Rs.289 crore fodder scam in Maharashtra's Ahmadnagar district. Whereas, the BJP sought a CBI probe in the alleged scam, and claimed some present and former ministers were involved.
(Compiled by Pratik Mukane)