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Madhav Chitale panel submits report on "irrigation scam" to Maharashtra govt

Saturday, 1 March 2014 - 4:51pm IST | Agency: PTI

The Madhav Chitale committee, which probed into the alleged irrigation scam in Maharashtra, today submitted its report to Chief Minister Prithvraj Chavan.

The report has been compiled after pouring through "thousands of documents" over 14 months. Chitale, a water management expert, was appointed by the government in December 2012 to examine the alleged irregularities in the water resources department, controlled by NCP.

In September 2012, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, who held the water resources portfolio for most of the last decade, resigned briefly following media reports about his role in tweaking rules to increase the cost of irrigation projects manifold. He was re-inducted in December that year. The media reports alleged he had arbitrarily awarded irrigation contracts worth over Rs 20,000 crore when he was State's Irrigation Minister during 1999-2009, before he was elevated as Deputy Chief Minister and handled the plum finance and energy portfolios.

The Chitale panel report submission comes a day after the interim budget session of the state legislature ended.

Coming a few weeks before the Lok Sabha elections, it is expected to have a political fallout, specially with regard to NCP. The opposition parties have alleged that much of the Rs 70,000 crore reportedly involved in the "irrigation scam" was either wasted on dud projects or siphoned off. 

Demanding that the report be made public and action taken against the guilty, including politicians and bureaucrats, state BJP chief Devendra Phadnavis feared the government will try to suppress the report like it initially attempted to do with the Adarsh commission report. 

Fadnavis said his party had provided "enough material" to the Chitale committee to nail politicians. Whistleblower and former chief engineer in the irrigation department, Vijay Pandhare, who recently joined AAP, said he thought the government would not release the report before the election.

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