Mumbai: Opposition BJP on Tuesday demanded that former Maharashtra deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and incumbent Water Resources Minister Sunil Tatkare should be booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act and an SIT probe should be allowed against them for their alleged role in the irrigation scam.
"There is enough proof to show that Tatkare and his predecessor Ajit Pawar were involved in the irregularities. The two NCP strongmen (should) be booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act and an inquiry be set up against them," Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly Eknath Khadse said in a press conference here.
Khadse demanded that a Special Investigating Team (SIT), comprising experts in the field of irrigation, under direct control and monitoring of the Governor, be constituted to probe the irregularities.
Accusing Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan of buckling under NCP pressure to save "somebody", Khadse said the Opposition will question Chavan on his stand regarding corruption in Irrigation department on the floor of House in the upcoming Winter session.
Khadse said when the opposition highlighted the irregularities in 22 tenders of the Lower Penganga Irrigation Project with "proof", the chief minister had cancelled the tenders.
He alleged that the White Paper on Irrigation released by the Water Resources Ministry recently was grossly misleading.
"It is the government document (Economic survey) which said that that the irrigation capacity increased by just 0.01 per cent in ten years despite spending Rs 70,000 crore. But, the White Paper says something else. Actually, the figure of Rs 42,000 crore mentioned in the white paper is the planned expenditure on irrigation while the amount of Rs 70,000 crore comprises both planned and non plan expenditure," Khadse said.
"We outrightly reject the figures of the government's White Paper on irrigation, which is misleading to the people of the state. It has sidestepped instances of corruption highlighted by various government agencies from time to time," Khadse alleged.
The BJP leader revealed that the party was holding consultations with other opposition parties and is preparing a "Black Paper" on irrigation, which will be released on the eve of the Winter Session in Nagpur next week.
If earlier irrigation figures of 0.01 per cent and Rs 70,000 crore stated in the Economic Survey are false then the chief minister and the minister concerned could attract breach of privilege of the legislature, he said.
"We will move a privilege notice against them if we are not satisfied with their replies in the winter Session," Khadse said.
When asked if the Opposition will thwart any move, if it comes up during the session to re-induct Ajit Pawar in the Cabinet, Khadse replied in negative.
"But, Ajit Pawar had declared that he will not be part of the ministry till an inquiry proves him innocent of all charges. There is no inquiry so far," he said, adding the White Paper does not absolve Ajit Pawar of the charges.