The Maharashtra government on Wednesday ordered an inquiry by the Anti-Corruption Bureau in 900 work orders under the Jalyukta Shivar, the water conservation scheme promoted by former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis during his tenure.
The government has received the Vijay Kumar committee's report which recommends ACB inquiry into 900 work orders, said state water conservation minister Shankarrao Gadakh.
"The report was accepted and the ACB is expected to commence its inquiry in the next few days," the minister told PTI."These nine hundred works where there was gross violation of guidelines and the quality of work was inferior will face open ACB inquiry," he added.
Further, district collectors would conduct an inquiry into some six lakh other works sanctioned under the scheme and check the quality of the work and if the procedures were followed or not, the minister said.
What is the scheme?
The "Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyaan", a pet project of Fadnavis, was launched in 2014 with the objective of making Maharashtra drought-free by 2019.
The project, pushed in a big way by the BJP-led government involved deepening and widening of streams, construction of cement and earthen stop dams, work on nullahs and digging of farm ponds.
What are the allegations?
However, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report submitted to the state legislature earlier last year, had observed that the scheme, under which Rs 9,633.75 crore were spent, was not much effective.
The CAG had noted that in 37 of the 83 villages, water shortage was because of less storage created than had been proposed. In 25 of 37 villages, this shortfall was more than 20 per cent.
The CAG had further observed that district authorities did not get periodical reports, to monitor the progress of the implementation. It has slammed the maintenance of completed works and said none of the 120 villages had collected cess towards maintenance and repairs, as had been proposed in the scheme.
Land under water-intensive cash crops increased in many villages, while only 29 of 80 villages were declared water-neutral. Third-party audits at Jawhar and Mokhada found major problems with the structural soundness of the projects, the CAG observed. It also pulled up the authorities for not uploading pictures of ongoing works at various stages, to maintain transparency.
The project had little impact in achieving water neutrality and increasing the groundwater level and its execution was characterized by a lack of transparency, the CAG said.
It also faced allegations of corruption and a 'non-scientific' approach to water conservation.
What did political leaders say?
State Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant said that the scheme was a "hub of corruption" while BJP leader Ashish Shelar claimed that Jalyukt Shivar was a people's movement and the decision to probe it was politically motivated
"Is the government going to probe the hard work of ordinary villagers? The decision is nothing but political vendetta," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)