Maharashtra orders ‘open inquiry’ by ACB into ‘irregularities’

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By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
July 23, 2021 3:25:30 am

Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis.

The Maharashtra government on Thursday ordered an open inquiry by the state Anti Corruption Bureau into alleged irregularities in Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan, a water conservation scheme.

As many as 931 works under the previous Devendra Fadnavis government’s flagship project will be subjected to the open inquiry while 396 others will undergo a departmental probe.

An “open” inquiry means that ACB — a wing of the Maharashtra Police — can summon people for recording statements, call for salary and income-tax return statements and seek details about movable and immovable assets. If it finds enough evidence, an FIR can be registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act or the inquiry can be closed if no evidence of corruption is found.

Water Conservation Minister Shankarrao Gadakh said, “The state government has accepted the recommendations of the Vijay Kumar committee recommending a probe into irregularities in Jalyukta Shivar works. The ACB will conduct open inquiry into 931 works.”

Fadnavis said: “The decision to probe Jalyukta Shivar works is welcome. During my tenure, I had ordered investigation into 600 works. Let the facts come out.”

“These schemes were implemented and monitored by the district collector’s office. Seven departments are involved in the project. The average cost of each work is between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh,” he added.

The scheme was launched by the Fadnavis government in December 2014. The objective was to make 25,000 Maharashtra villages free of drought.

A source in the government said: “Options were to either conduct a discreet probe or an open inquiry by the ACB or order an administrative departmental probe. After some deliberation, the government felt an open inquiry by ACB was the best option.”

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