Chitale gets office at Aurangabad water institute

Says first meeting likely in January last week.

Irrigation expert Madhav Chitale, who heads the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the alleged irrigation scam, will have his office at the Water and Land Management Institute in Aurangabad. The institute is said to have received a letter in this regard.

"I have been given an office at the institute. The government now formally needs to appoint a secretary to deal with the correspondence as well as have a formal announcement of budgetary allocation for the purpose," Chitale told The Indian Express.

He said once the appointment was done he would have the first meeting in the last week of January. He said with members appointed in the team, the terms of reference would be declared in discussion with other members. The state government had constituted the SIT to probe into the alleged irrigation scam and submit a report in six months.

While Chitale, the former chairman of the Central Water Commission, has been appointed its chairman, the other members include former additional chief secretary (finance) A K D Jadhav, retired irrigation secretary V M Ranade and former agriculture commissioner Krishna Lavhekar.

Opposition leaders, who had earlier pressed for an SIT probe, now claim it will not have the powers to implicate the guilty.

Questions were raised regarding the work done by the irrigation department after an Economic Survey Report indicated that only 0.01 per cent additional area had been brought under irrigation over the last one decade, despite the department having spent Rs 70,000 crore.

The department later presented a white paper to the state cabinet on the amounts spent on irrigation projects in the last decade. It had blamed the cost overruns on delays due to land acquisition and rehabilitation issues.

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