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Irrigation scam: HC notice to Ajit Pawar, NCP MLC

The Bombay High Court has issued notices to Maharashtra’s former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and NCP MLC from Yavatmal, Sandip Bajoriya, in a PIL alleging irregularities in irrigation projects in the state’s Buldhana and Amravati districts.

A Nagpur bench of Justices Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Atul Chandurkar on Thursday directed them to reply before November 25, the next date of hearing in the case.

The petitioner, Atul Jagtap, alleged that contracts for completing the Jigaon and Lower Pedhi projects, in Buldhana and Amravati respectively, were awarded to the MLC’s Bajoriya Construction Company at the behest of Pawar during the earlier Congress-NCP rule.

Jagtap filed an application seeking to add Pawar, who was then state irrigation minister, and Bajoriya, as respondents.

The cost of the Jigaon project rose to Rs 5,700 crore from Rs 394 crore in 15 years. The cost is expected to further cross Rs 7,000 crore by the project’s deadline in 2019.

He also sought constitution of a high-powered committee to investigate the alleged corruption and illegalities in allotment of tenders to Bajoriya’s firm.

The PIL alleged that tender conditions were tweaked to favour the construction firm controlled by Bajoria, a big name in irrigation construction sector, allegedly at the behest of Pawar. Bajoria’s firm got contract for both the projects only due to his proximity with Pawar, the PIL alleged.

The petitioner, who obtained details under the RTI Act, alleged that forged and fabricated documents were submitted by Bajoria to meet the eligibility criterion.

The PIL also slammed the respondent contractor firm for not completing project work despite availing mobilisation advance from the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation.

Work order of Jigaon project was issued in 2008-09 while that of Lower Pedhi was issued way back in 2006-07.

Till date the work was not completed, the PIL claimed while demanding high-level probe into the irregularities and scrapping of tender process and issuance of new tenders.

Advocate Shridhar Purohit appeared for the petitioner.

The Bajoria construction firm was represented by advocates Pravin Deshmukh and N B Kalwaghe.
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