Nagpur Police today booked nine Irrigation department officials, four of who have retired from service, in two different cases of corruption to the tune of Rs 23.31 crore under alleged Gosikhurd irrigation project scam, an official said. Four contractors were also booked under various sections of the IPC on the complaint lodged against them by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) at Sadar police station, the official said. The two FIRs were registered against the officials and the contractors under sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the IPC, the official said.
While one FIR is related to the Nerla (Pagore) irrigation scheme under Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC), another is related to the work of the main canal near Ghodajari branch, he said. The official said the Irrigation department officials and contractors allegedly entered into a conspiracy in the soil work and construction of the 35-km-long canal and cheated the state government of Rs 1549.99 lakh. These officials are identified as Prabhakar Morghade, Shyam Ambulkar, Dilip Pahekar, Sopan Suryavanshi and Rahidas Landge who were working at VIDC in various capacities for the Gosikhurd Project, he said, adding that they misused their official positions to help contractors B V Ramarao and Ramareddy G N Reddy.
Another set of VIDC officials includes then Executive Engineer Ramesh Vardhane, Divisional Accountant (retd) Gurudas Mandavkar, Superintendent Engineer Sopan Suryavanshi (who took a voluntary retirement), and Chief Engineer and executive director (retd) Devendra Shirke, the official said. He said these officials were responsible for alleged corruption in the soil work in the construction of the 4500 metre-long main canal near Ghodajari branch.
The official said that contractors Shyam Dharmadhikari and Sunil Shinde entered into a conspiracy with these officials and cheated the exchequer to the tune of Rs 781.39 lakh. Further investigation is on, he added.
Gosikhurd is the inter-district irrigation project in Vidarbha which was approved in March 1983 at an estimated cost of Rs 372.22 crore and was expected to be completed by March 1990. However, it remains incomplete even after 33 years after the approvals were granted. It is alleged that the project costs have escalated manifold over a period of time. The ACB had last September filed a chargesheet against six former officials in a Nagpur court for alleged fraud and corruption in the inter-district irrigation project. A report of the Public Accounts Committee had noted that after 33 long years and spending thousands of crores, the purpose of commissioning the project is not realised yet.