Devendra Fadnavis, leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, is on the radar of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government over allegations of corruption relating to the water conservation scheme ‘Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan’, which had been initiated during the BJP leader’s tenure as Maharashtra CM.
The state government has ordered an open inquiry into the alleged scam concerning over 900 development projects under the Jalyukt Shivar scheme. The investigation will be conducted by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB)
The BJP leader has accepted the challenge of the MVA government, welcoming the inquiry.
The Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan, launched in 2014, had been the flagship project of the BJP-led government in Maharashtra under the leadership of Fadnavis.
Politics Or Probe?
Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi government has been accused of corruption on a number of occasions in the past. Several ministers and leaders of the government are on the radar of central agencies. The MVA, on its part, has spoken against the misuse of the central investigative agencies. Yet, the MVA government has now ordered an open inquiry against Fadnavis to be conducted in a similar fashion.
Senior journalist Sanjay Jog says that amid talk of the fall of the MVA government, the ordering of the probe against Fadnavis signals that the three parties part of the coalition are ready to put up a fight against the BJP.
Just as Deputy CM of Maharashtra Ajit Pawar and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) were maligned on the issue of irrigation scam that allegedly occurred when the Congress government was in power, the MVA government’s investigation of the alleged corruption in Shivar Yojana can serve as a tool to tarnish the Fadnavis’s image.
The Jalyukt Shivar scheme is being investigated from two ends. The government had earlier ordered a departmental inquiry into the matter, which will entail an investigation into the discrepancies within the work conducted under the scheme, and violations, if any, of tendering and administrative guidelines. Under this investigation, the brunt of the probe will be borne by the officers.
The inquiry conducted by the ACB will entail a probe into the financial irregularities detected in connection to the scheme. In the open inquiry, any person related to the scheme can be called upon for questioning.
What Are The Allegations?
The MVA government which succeeded the Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra treated the complaints levelled against the Jalyukt Shivar scheme with great seriousness.
In the Cabinet meeting of October 2019 which was chaired by CM Uddhav Thackeray, the demand for an open inquiry into the alleged discrepancies in Shivar Yojana arose for the first time. Thereafter, a committee was constituted under the chairmanship of retired officer Vijay Kumar.
This committee recently submitted its report to the government, wherein about 900 construction works have been recommended for open investigation by the ACB.
Earlier, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had also objected to the work conducted under the Jalyukt Shivar Yojana. According to the CAG, while 9 thousand crore rupees were spent on the scheme, the groundwater level did not rise as had been proposed under the policy.
The scheme also faced the allegations of a lack of transparency in its conduction. Purportedly, the scheme was not implemented on the ground level in some villages, contrary to what the records had reflected.
What Fadnavis Said
Fadnavis speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, indicated that he is welcomes the investigation.
“”I welcome the decision to probe the 950 works in Jalyukta Shivar scheme. During my tenure, I had already given similar probe orders into 600 works. These schemes were implemented under district collectors, with an average cost of Rs 1 lakh to 1.25 lakh. Some seven departments in a collectorate were involved in the scheme.”” – Devendra FadnavisWhat is the Jalyukt Shivar Yojana?
In 2014, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced the Jalyukt Shivar Yojana.
The water conservation scheme had sought to make Maharashtra a drought-free state by 2019. The programme aimed to ameliorate the water scarcity in 5,000 villages in the state each year.
. Read more on India by The Quint.Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony LIVE: Emperor Naruhito Declares Games OpenFadnavis Welcomes Maha Vikas Aghadi’s Inquiry Into Jalyukta Shivar Scheme . Read more on India by The Quint.