Mumbai, 18th April, 2013
More evidence surfaces linking payment of bribery to Mr. Ajit Pawar, former BJP President Mr. Nitin Gadkari, Gopinath Munde, Sunil Deshmukh, MLA, Mr. Vijay Vadettiwar and their associates in water supply and Irrigation Projects
NAPM demands an independent Commission of Inquiry and punishment to the guilty
The unholy conspiracy and related corruption, in water supply and irrigation projects, is being discussed not only in the corridors of power but also among the drought affected poor villagers across the state.
When the Irrigation scam was exposed, names of several politicians had surfaced. However, their direct involvement in ‘receiving bribes’ was unproved. The percentage syndrome, doling out ‘money’ to the authorities and power holders was talked about by Rajiv Gandhi and repeated by every party politician but with no effect. The only section that pays the cost is the majority population of ‘common’ people who are to suffer, sacrifice and surrender to all those who fool and loot them in the name of development, economic growth and politics of progress.
Gosi Khurd Irrigation Project and Mahalakshmi Infra Projects Limited
Last year, when the irrigation scam came out, Gosi Khurd was one of the projects listed. We have now gathered fresh set of papers which clearly show payment of ‘speed money’ to powerful politicians. Income Tax Assessment of Mahalakshmi Infra projects Limited show Rs 200 crores “investment” by the company in Ghodziri Branch canal of Gosikhurd – Right Bank Main Canal; in Tembhu project in Western Maharashtra; and one more ‘untitled’ project. Mahalakshmi Infra projects Limited (MIL, earlier known as Mahalakshmi Construction Company Ltd -MCCL) was investigated by the income tax department in year 2011. Its offices, director’s and others offices and residences were raided and an assessment report was prepared with order filed by the Deputy Commissioner, Income tax, Central Circle, Kolhapur on 27-12-2011.
The assessment order brought out unquestionable TRUTH and facts with details of ‘Speed Money’ and all illegal, unjustifiable expenses incurred by the company to be categorized as payments non- permissible under law, and not for the purpose of the business. It also meant false statement of Income tax, under the law and thus a major loot of the state exchequer.
Details of money paid
Assessment report based on documents, diary and papers seized from the residences of its Director, Dhirendra Anant Bhat, show fine details of money paid during the pre-tendering process for garnering the contracts.
Some of the beneficiaries are Deputy Minister Mr. Ajit Pawar, Former BJP President Mr. Nitin Gadkari, Gopinath Munde, Sunil Deshmukh, MLA, Mr. Vijay Vadettiwar and their associates. Documents seized from Bhatt also include details of money paid to the technical experts and officials in the Irrigation Department, Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation and Krishna Valley Development Corporation.
Details of ‘payments’ worth 43.85 crores were obtained from D A Bhat who ultimately admitted, and so did the Chairman and Managing Director of MIL, Mr. Ravindra D Shinde that those payments ranging from 1 lakh to crores to each of the persons named by initials or short forms, with designations or nick names, were indeed made during the period of 2/3 years until the raid on 23-9-2009 and thereafter.
In just one branch canal project, with an estimated cost of 287 crores, ‘Dada’, also named as A.P. in certain seized pages, with amounts and details such as dates tallying with each other, took the largest of the share, Rs. 27,50,00,000/- i.e. 10% of the total project estimate – the ‘normal’ rate for ‘speed money’ popularly known and taken as indispensable ! This amount was shared as 50 – 50% by the two partner firms, one the Assessor, MIL and its IT Venture Partner, M/s B. T. Patil and Sons Belgaum Construction Company Ltd. There is also mention of ‘AB’ who invested a part of the first year’s (2006-07) unexplained Business Expenses of 200 lakhs i.e. 2 crores, divided into 50% as assistance to and for each of the JV Partner firms!
Nitin Gadkari and Gopinath Munde were also paid about Rs 50 Lakh and Rs 20 Lakh respectively.
Officials of MoEF – Ministry of Environment and Forest as well as Darda family also seem to have received their share.
Some of the pages of evidence are copy pasted in the detailed note in Marathi, but also annexed here with page nos mentioned from the original Assessment Order. The analysis of the above indicates that the % almost fixed and estimated since the beginning, which escalates the project cost by atleast the same amount as “well-planned”. The delays, irrespective of ‘speed money’ obviously are a part of the game that “get, set and go”, only when the shares are obtained. And further official escalation in the cost also then becomes a demand.
Gosikhurd Dam project of which Right Bank branch canal of Ghodziri is under scanner as well. Left bank canal has became a mess with Nitesh Bhangadia, present MLC, BJP, another politician contractor getting his due score while Ghodziri branch with the above ‘entanglements’ is still far from complete, with water yet to reach Asolamendha tank, the old tank of 1940’s yet to be expanded, 11 more villages planned to be submerged for the same and irrigation benefits yet not obtained to “lack of funds” for the minor network! The people of Vidarbha, Maharashtra are surely made fools and not the water but ‘milk’ from the project-cows diverted!
The CAG report, Maharashtra (civil), 31.3.2011 brings out the story of Ghodziri. The report of the Deputy Commissioner also refers to the Tembhu Large Lift Diversion Project, started in 1999 but lying behind by years, even when the oustees of Wang – Marathwadi and other related projects are being drowned and displaced, since years in the name of water for Tembhu!
A reading of the detailed note on Tembhu seized during the raid show that the same MIL has tendered cost of the material to be supplied for the project increased by 60% of the real market cost. This increase, shown as “overheads” amount to 26.7% of the cost, that comes to about 105 crores, admitted by the Director Mr. Bhat specially entrusted with ‘operation distribution’ to get contracts, get bills sanctioned, to obtain other clearances and keep all, even the each others’ opponents, happy.
One more project details, without identification are found to indicate that 14.5% of the total 633 Crores, bill sanctioned, i.e. 92 crores are kept for doling out over and above the official / legitimate profit.
It’s obvious that this Assessment order could be sufficient to take action against the Assessed, and Receivers too could be tried under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 for receipt of ‘pecuniary advantage’. However, the Judicial Authority of Commissioner – IT – investigation was approached by the assessor and assessment order gave a partially clean chit! The Appellate report too, however, does not deny the expenditure as ‘speed money’ which would be an adequate basis to act. Who will bell the cat, may we ask ? The matter is still with the IT – Appellate Tribunal, Pune (ITAT) taking months if not years and there is no money for maintaining agency to ‘speed’ the investigation. Meanwhile, Mahalakshmi Infra projects continue to progress and be involved in implementing projects.
Need for a committee of Enquiry
Can the same Madhav Chitale Committee (former chair of many other committees) have the courage, and commitment to investigate not only Ghodziri, Tembhu, Koyna (another mentioned in the same order of 27-12-2011) but all and every water-irrigation project during last 5 to 10 years atleast? With those on the opposite benches uniting to gain, this is not likely.
We, as NAPM, while continuing to search details into the Water Scam feel ashamed of not only the vulgar remarks but more immoral, criminal acts of corruption – misusing and mismanaging public money and resources including water, when we are faced with the worst drought in decades.
We demand and assert a need to appoint an impartial, independent Commission of Enquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, chaired by a judge with integrity and honesty. The TOR for the commission must include
Investigation into all projects – small and large: dam, canal or lifts by calling for all data, documents, files, summoning anyone concerned including ministers and Chief Minister and relying upon a special Investigation Team (SIT) but also assisted by state and central agencies such as Directorate of Enforcement, ACB, EOW, CVC and IT dept.
This can not happen without a forceful demand from the people and the media with whatever commitment still preserved.
Medha Patkar Suniti S R Vilas Bhongade Prasad Bagwe