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ACB summons NCP leaders Ajit Pawar & Sunil Tatkare

Three months after it initiated criminal proceedings against NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, the anti-corruption bureau (ACB), led by IPS officer Praveen Dixit, has begun to tighten the noose around NCP’s Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare, who were deputy CM and irrigation minister in the UPA government.
A top IPS officer informed that both Tatkare and Pawar have been asked to report to the ACB’s office. “Tatkare has been summoned on September 15 and Pawar on September 16. If they fail to respond, we will invoke provisions of the IPC as well as the Criminal Procedure Code to ensure their presence.”
On June 8, the ACB had registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the IPC against Bhujbal, son Pankaj, nephew Samir, and senior engineers of the PWD for their alleged involvement in the Maharashtra Sadan scam.
On August 25, the ACB registered a case under PCA against F A Constructions and F A Enterprises, and six engineers of Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation, for “rampant corruption” in the Rs 1,600 crore Balganga irrigation project, approved by a council headed by Ajit Pawar.
The ACB had summoned both Pawar and Tatkare on May 10 to record their statements over alleged corruption in allotment of irrigation projects during their tenure as water resources department ministers. Both had declined to oblige the ACB. The bureau had then granted them exemption from personal appearance and permitted them to submit their contention in writing.
The ACB’s decision to summon the senior NCP leaders now is seen as a setback to the powerful Pawar clan.
Following a series of reports in various mediaAjit pawar on corruption in the water resources department and blatant violation of rules to favour a few contractors and developers, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was then an Opposition member, had written to the then CM Prithviraj Chavan for a high-level probe into the multi-crore scam. Then, Fadnavis had also knocked at the ACB’s doors. Simultaneously, a public interest litigation, too, was filed before the Bombay high court’s Nagpur bench. The proposal for permission to launch an open inquiry was placed before Chavan, but he failed to take a decision on it.
When Fadnavis took over the reins, he cleared the proposal. Accordingly, the high court was informed that the state government has granted permission for an open inquiry on December 12, 2014.
A senior bureaucrat said the main charge against Ajit Pawar and Tatkare was that in a brief span of 12 months, there was a massive hike in the cost of Kondhane, Kalu and Balganga irrigation projects in the Konkan region. In addition, norms for allotment of the contract were flouted to favour a particular contractor and work order was given without approval of the forest and environment department. “There was violation of rules at all levels for the benefit of a particular contractor,” he said.

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