Mumbai, Oct 14, 2020 –
In a jolt to the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, the Maharashtra Government on Wednesday said it will probe the JalYukt Shivar Abhiyan, launched by Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis when he was the chief minister.
The ‘open enquiry’ by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) follows a report by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) raising questions over the manner in which the JSA project was executed.
Among other things, the CAG said: “.. despite spending Rs 9633.75 crore, the Abhiyan (mission) had little impact in achieving water neutrality and increasing ground water level”.
Its report was tabled during the two-day monsoon session of Maharashtra legislature in September.
At the cabinet meeting earlier this afternoon, the Maha Vikas Aghadi allies – Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress – unanimously agreed on the need to probe the JSA.
“There is the CAG Report and it needs to be probed… There’s no politics behind it,” said NCP State President and Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil.
Water Conservation Minister Shankarrao Gadakh said there were irregularities in the implementation of the scheme necessitating the enquiry.
“The details of how it will be probed shall be worked out in a couple of days. There have been complaints and litigations pertaining to the JSA, grievances still keep coming,” Gadakh said.
The ambitious project involved widening or deepening of big and small streams, construction of cement or earthen check dams, reinforcing drains and digging of farm ponds to make 25,000 villages drought-free between 2014-19, when the erstwhile BJP-Shiv Sena government headed by Fadnavis was in power.
Congress Spokesperson Sachin Sawant welcomed the probe, but Opposition leaders Pravin Darekar and Ashish Shelar cried foul over the SIT probe announced by the MVA government saying it would be a ‘betrayal’ of the ordinary workers who toiled to make it a success.
Shelar claimed that there were a total 6,41,560 JSA works out of which the CAG examined only 1,128, or 0.17 percent, and of the 22,589 villages where it was implemented the CAG audited only 120 hamlets, or 0.53 percent.
He pointed out that the CAG has not made any allegations of corruption and it has admitted that 98 per cent work was also completed.
“The important question is since it was approved by the government of which even Shiv Sena was a party, will it probe itself,” Shelar asked.
The development came two days after Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission President Kishore Tiwari wrote a letter to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari demanding sacking of Fadnavis as Leader of Opposition for allegegedly flouting the Oath of Office and Secrecy by disclosing certain vital information pertaining to the Aarey Colony metro car shed project. (Agency)