Gadkari sought central funds
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BJP president Nitin Gadkari wrote to Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Bansal in July this year to push for the release of central funds for contractors of an irrigation project declared as seriously flawed by India's premier water resources technical organisation.
The Gosikhurd project, the biggest in drought-prone Vidarbha, is at the centre of the irrigation controversy that resulted in the resignation of Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar last week. The BJP has been part of the loud chorus against the alleged irrigation "scam".
On July 30, four months after an inspection by Central Water Commission (CWC) chairman R C Jha detected several major construction flaws in the dam, Gadkari wrote to Bansal saying all objections had been clarified, no issues were pending, and central funds should, therefore, be released to the contractors.
"The report (of Special Audit, AG II, Maharashtra) was discussed in the meeting of high-powered committee where the state officers gave clarifications to all objections and stated that allegations made in the complaints carried no basis," Gadkari wrote. "The project was sanctioned Rs 777.61 crore as second installment for 2010-11. The continuation proposal of Rs 1,295 for 2011-12 was submitted to CWC. As all actions were taken by state government, no new issues are now pending... CWC and Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources have also strongly recommended the continuation proposal. Chairman CWC also carried inspection. If any rectification is needed due to bad quality of work, it will be carried out at the risk and cost of the contractor, not using the national fund.
"All issues were discussed in a meeting of the steering committee on May 14 and it was decided to release Central assistance... (But) It is learnt that some persons again approached Joint Secretary (Finance) and made fresh complaints. Therefore, even after... two and half months, the Finance Department hasn't released funds.
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