Oppn gets SIT nod to submit documents

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SummaryIrrigation scam: BJP leaders to meet Chitale this weekend

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) looking into the multi-crore irrigation scam has given consent to the Opposition to submit documents related to alleged financial irregularities in water projects in the state.

Leader of the Opposition in Legislative Council Vinod Tawde (BJP) received a letter from SIT Chairman Madhav Chitale Monday asking him to depose before the panel with relevant documents at the earliest. On Tuesday, Tawde said: “The BJP led by state chief Devendra Fadnavis will meet Chitale this weekend. We will provide documents to prove specific charges of irregularities in various projects.”

He added: “Whether it is Gosikhurd national project or irrigation work under Krishna Valley Development Corporation, everything will be highlighted in our presentation. We have all documents related to cost escalation, violation of norms in the allocation of projects and their poor execution.”

The BJP’s chief concern was that the panel was not investigating the corruption aspect in the irrigation sector.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had said the primary role of the panel was fact finding to evolve a mechanism to take corrective measures in the irrigation sector. However, directives from Governor K Sankaranayaranan, court and the advocate general forced the government to ask the Chitale panel to also look into the allegations of corruption.

Responding to a PIL in August, Advocate General Darius Khambata said in an affidavit the government would issue directives to the SIT to allow Opposition and individuals to make depositions related to irrigation projects. He wrote to Chief Secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia to ask the SIT not to reject the submissions by Opposition leaders and other people.

Chavan, however, finds himself in a dilemma as there is pressure from the NCP to wind up the SIT in December 2013. Sources in the CM Office said: “In the wake of fresh documents, we will have to give more time to the SIT to study them before giving its final report.”

However, the Opposition’s demand for amendments in the panel to enable probe under the Commissions of Inquiry Act has been rejected by the government. An official in the water resources ministry said: “There is a provision (in the Act), which clearly says anybody found guilty will be punished.”

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