Irrigation scam: Maharashtra govt forms SIT under water expert Madhav Chitale
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The committee is expected to submit its report in six months. Making the announcement in the Legislative Assembly, Water Resources Minister Sunil Tatkare said that details of the committee, its terms of reference and deadline will be finalised before December 31.
"Madhav Chitale will head the SIT to probe allegations in irrigation projects. Further technical details of other members, timeline and terms of reference would be decided by December 31," Tatkare said ending the suspense over action government will take over irrigation scam.
Dr Chitale is a known expert in water sector. He was appointed a Commissioner, River Basins, Government of India. He was appointed as Chairman, Central Water Commission (apex body of India's water sector). He was the Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India from 1989. He retired from government service in August 1992. He is member of the United Nations Environmental Program's Water Advisory Committee since 1989.
Before this, Chitale was chief of the fact finding committee appointed o investigate the Mumbai floods of 2005. It had submitted a detailed 283-page report two years ago after the 944-mm deluge of July 2005.
Bharitya Janata Party (BJP) had demanded SIT probe in irrigation scam and expressed triumph on Monday after the announcement was made, after stalling the House for past one week seeking a probe.
"We are satisfied with the SIT probe by the expert. We will present the documents and proof we have regarding the scam before the Chitale team. We are hoping the report comes out in six months," said Vinod Tawde, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council.
The Water Resources Department presented a white paper to the state Cabinet about spending over the irrigation projects in last decade which blamed delays in land acquisition, rehabilitation issues for cost and time over-runs. It did not ascertain if there were any irregularities in award of contracts and paved the way for Ajit Pawar's return to the state Cabinet. In fact, the white paper stated that rate contracts were much lower as compared by other agencies like BMC and adjoining states.
Questions were raised regarding work done by the irrigation department after an Economic Survey Report indicated that only 0.01 per cent addition area had been brought under irrigation over the last one decade, despite a spending of Rs 70,000 crore. The WR department had said that 5.17 per cent area had been brought under irrigation, following which Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan promised to bring out a "white paper" over irrigation projects.