The central probe agency Enforcement Directorate has reopened the Irrigation Scam case against the Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. The agency has started an investigation into money-laundering by Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation over suspected irregularities in awarding irrigation contracts.
Earlier, the Anti-corruption Bureau had given a clean chit to Ajit Pawar in December last year in connection to alleged irregularities related to twelve projects under Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation. According to an affidavit filed in the Maharashtra High Court on 27 November, the NCP leader was cleared of all allegations in the Vidarbha irrigation scam by the Maharashtra ACB. The affidavit was filed just a day before the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government (Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress) was sworn in the state on November 28.
“There is no evidence to show that the secretary had briefed the minister about not accepting liability of the cost escalations,” the affidavit filed by the ACB to High court had said.
Nagpur Unit of ED has started the investigation
As per reports, the Nagpur unit of Enforcement directorate has started investigating the Goseikurd project in the Bhandara district. The investigation is based on the cases registered by the Anti-corruption Bureau. Although the case registered by ACB did not name Pawar, ED was investigating Ajit Pawar in connection with the scam. Accordingly, an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) was registered by ED at Nagpur, where Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation is headquartered. ECIR is the FIR equivalent to FIR.
Ajit Pawar also handled the Water Resources and Development department and other departments during the Congress and NCP coalition government from 1999-2009. He has also been the Chairman of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation. Under which the irrigation projects were approved. He was later accused of irregularities.
On this issue, BJP Leader Kirit Somaiya has said, “I welcomes the 2 ECIR complaints registered by ED today on Maharashtra Irrigation Scam. I am sure that they will go deep into corrupt practices, money laundering etc. and also find the real beneficiaries.”