On May 4-5, 2016, Lok Sabha Speaker Smt Sumitra Mahajan took the lead in organising a workshop for Members of Parliament on Drought, Agrarian Crisis and ILR. As part of the newly constituted Speaker’s Research Initiative’s (SRI for short) work, Smt Mahajan inaugurated the workshop at 4 pm on May 4, 2016, where a panel of eight speakers were invited (4 on each day, SANDRP coordinator was one of the invited speakers on 1st day) to share their views, followed by questions from Members of Parliament. The idea was that on these important issues, Parliament Members are better equipped to raise the relevant issues when debating and raising questions in Parliament. It was heartening to see that at least 90 MPs (88 from Lok Sabha and 2 on Rajya Sabha) were present for 2.5 hours on first day, and they wanted to ask so many questions that there was not sufficient time to allow all of them to ask, nor sufficient time for speakers to make full presentations or answer all the questions. Similarly on second day too Speakers showed lot of interest on these issues. While inaugurating the workshop, Smt Mahajan mentioned how in Solapur, Maharashtra, because of the work of the collector and his team of officials, the impact of drought is lower than that in other districts. This was certainly heartening since it was SANDRP Associate Coordinator Parineeta Dandekar who first wrote on this issue, following her visit to Solapur and interview with the district collector. The workshop highlighted the need for many such workshops, possibly more focussed, but the impact of the workshop was already visible in the (as yet unfinished) debate under section 193 that started in Lok Sabha on May 5, 2016, hopefully to be continued in current week.
Press Release: ___________ 21.06.14
RAMPANT ENVIRONMENTAL VIOLATIONS OF MAHARASHTRA WATER RESOURCE DEPARTMENT: STATE FOREST AND ENVIRONMENT DEPT AND CENTRAL MOEF NEED TO TAKE URGENT ACTION
A shocking expose by the CAG Report on Management of Irrigation Projects in Maharashtra, 2014, highlights the repeated and rampant Environmental Violations in Maharashtra which have led to huge impacts, environmental issues, stoppage of work, wastage of funds and violations of multiple laws.
CAG states that as many as 249 projects in Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) alone started work without receiving the legally required Environmental Clearance (EC) from the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests or the State Environment Department. There are large number of projects also from Konkan IDC, Tapi IDC, Godavari Marathawada IDC and Maharashtra Krishna Valley Dev Corporation. In test cases, an expenditure of Rs 376.96 crore was incurred up to March 2013 without obtaining EC by VIDC alone. In addition, work was started in 89 projects and Rs. 7,129.76 crore were spent without Forest Clearance, in violations of Forest Conservation Act by all IDCs. Issues due to this led to an additional expense of nearly Rs. 2000 Crores. Some of the important CAG findings:
- There was no mechanism in the WRD to monitor compliance of environmental clearance conditions. However, the responsibility of monitoring compliance also falls with the State and Central Environment Departments and Ministries and the Pollution Control Board. They too have violated the laws by not taking any action against the WRD and are to blame for the terrible state of affairs. Following indicates that some of these agencies refused to take action even when SANDRP and other organisations pointed out the violations in the past.
- Some examples of projects without Environmental clearance are: Surya, Virdi, Nardawe, Kondane: Konkan IDC, Janai Shirsai LIS and Chaskaman extension by MKVDC (Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation), Katepurna barrage, Lower Dnyanganga, Januna, Pangrabandhi, Warajahangir, Sukli and Lower Wardha Major Project by VIDC, Kurha Vadoa project by Tapi IDC and Vishnupuri Project Phase II by Godavari Marathawada IDC which includes 13 barrages on the Godavari.
After the CAG report, the Environment Department, GOM has issued notices to 38 projects without EC. Director, Environment Department told SANDRP that Forest Department may issue a separate notice to projects violating the FC Act.
Violations of Forest Conservation Act (1980). Some of the important CAG findings:
- 188 projects valuing Rs 46,652.44 crore under the jurisdiction of five IDCs remained incomplete (June 2013) because of pending forest clearances by GoI and GoM. 18 projects were not granted forest clearance due to violation of Forest Act.
- 139 projects from above mentioned 188 projects needed 19,489 hectares of forest land.
- An expenditure of Rs 7,129.76 crore was incurred on 89 projects out of these pending clearances under the Forest Act in violation of Forest Conservation Act (1980). For 61 projects and 7636 ha land, no NPV (Net Present Value, required to be deposited for use of forest land) was deposited.
- In 19 out of 89 projects, commencement of work without forest clearances necessitated changes, stoppage of work etc. resulting in blocking of funds to the extent of Rs 1,944.92 crore.
While the CAG report has done a comprehensive assessment of the violations of Environmental Act, Chitale Committee Report, also brought out around the same time misses many of these projects and violations. However, the Chitale Report also recommends strict action to be taken against Executive Engineers for starting working without clearances.
SANDRP had tried to bring several such violations from bigger projects to the notice of both Govt of Maharashtra and Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India consistently. However, most shockingly, no action was taken about these violating projects by these bodies. Letter about irregularities in Nardawe Medium Irrigation Project to Mr. A. Rajeev, Principal Secretary Environment Department, GOM in July 2013, as also to the MoEF, has been unanswered till date.
- Additional HUGE projects which have commenced without EC include the Krishna Marathwada Lift Irrigation Scheme in Solapur, Lower Tapi Project in Dhule, and as many as 9 lift irrigation schemes based on Ujani.
- SANDRP had sent relevant information on the above projects in form of submissions to MoEF time to time, but NO ACTION WAS TAKEN BY THE MINISTRY.
- The State Wildlife Board, Maharashtra, under the Chairpersonship of the Chief Minister has cleared violating projects in its last meeting which were under construction and had already violated the Supreme Court Orders as well as the Environment Protection Act 1986. These projects include Nardawe Medium Irrigation Project and Alewadi and Ar Kacheri Nallah Projects in Buldana. Here too, SANDRP had pointed out the violations to the SWB, but it chose to take no action.
- Additional Environmental and Forest violations are documented by SANDRP in projects including: Balganga, Kalu, Shai, Talamba and Sarambale Dams of KIDC, Upper Godavari Interbasin Transfer and Manjarpada Phase I project and Components of Gosi Khurd in GMIDC.
- Lift Irrigation Schemes like Shirapur LIS, Sangola LIS, Barshi LIS, Bhima Seena Link Canal, Dahigain LIS and Seena Madha LIS based on Ujani. All information about these has been given by SANDRP in January 2013 to the Expert Appraisal Committee of the MoEF which grants Environmental Clearance to these projects. But no action has been taken by MoEF.
This points to the inescapable conclusion that the state forest and environment department and ministry as well as the MoEF, Delhi, are equally responsible for consciously turning a blind eye towards violations by WRD, Maharahstra.
Any action taken by these agencies following the CAG report is only to save face and is too little too late, as environment and forests are already impacted and huge amounts of public funds are already spent or locked in these projects without even basic impact assessments or appraisals. This shows that the government, politicians and bureaucrats have no respect for environment and forest clearances, appraisals, impact assessments & affected community’s opinion through public consultations. Strict action should be taken against all those ministers, officials, engineers & contractors, who are responsible for sanctioning and starting such work. Action also needs to be taken against agencies which have looked the other way and have failed to take necessary action, along with WRD Maharashtra for violating laws of the land and affecting forests, environment, people, society and economy of the state.
While the responsibility of ruling coalition of Congress and NCP is greater, the opposition alliance of BJP and Shiv Sena is also equally to blame for not raising these important issues which are crucial for the people of Maharashtra.
It has been reported that the Special Investigation Team under the Chairpersonship of Dr. Madhavrao Chitale has submitted its 1300+ pages report on the Dam Scam and practically no increase in irrigated area in Maharashtra, to the Chief Minister.
Dr. Chitale has reportedly said that no political person has been named in the report, supposedly because it was not the mandate of his committee. In his words: “There was no question of mentioning the name of any minister or bureaucrat for the wrongdoings in irrigation sector as it was not permissible under the given guidelines. At the very beginning, it was made clear that findings will be very impersonal. The objective of the committee was never to engage in fault finding of any individual (politicians or bureaucrats) but rather larger concerns related to the systemic lapses that resulted in the cost overruns and allowed manipulation of rules,”
This, though expected from Dr. Chitale, is entirely incorrect as the TORs to the SIT by the GOM, dated 31st Dec 2012 clearly mention 2.9: “If irregularity is found in investigations, the committee will fix responsibility and suggest further action.” in addition, the systemic lapses that have occured in Maharshtra have been sytematically abetted by many for personal gains. Not even attempting to fix the responsibility,is akin to giving a clean chit to the strong perpetrators.
The SIT report is not in the open domain as yet, but if it has indeed shied away from specifically naming guilty politicians, bureaucrats and engineers, then it is hugely problematic. The links between politicians, bureaucrats and engineers have been made clear by a number of whistle blowers of the irrigation scam at grave personal risks. The SIT had all the resources, the mandate, the time and the opportunity to investigate charges and radically influence Maharashtra’s irrigation sector. But right from the beginning, the SIT refused to look into matters of corruption, clearly indicating that it will not ‘dirty its hands’ and will go with the status quo, which suited the ruling government. Supporting Status Quo at such important juncture comes at a huge social cost. SIT’s composition as well as its stand was challenged by many, including SANDRP. (SANDRPs Press Release, Piece by Pradeep Purandare, New Reports, Pani Dhoran Manch PR)
One of the most significant whistle blowers of the Dam Scam, Vijay Pandhare, who was then the Chief Engineer of Irrigation Dept had written a scathing letter to Dr. Chitale in March 2013, when Chitale refused to investigate any evidence given by leader of opposition Vinod Tawde about corruption in the Irrigation sector.
This letter ( obtained and translated from Marathi into English by SANDRP) indicates Pandhare’s impassioned appeal to Dr. Chitale to investigate charges and fix responsibility as per the mandate of the committee. Pandhare in fact says that: “If the SIT is going to be escapist about the issue of corruption, then it is better that you resign, listening to your inner voice, because such escapism would not be in the interest of the state.” He produces many evidences of wrong doings in the WRD. The scale of the problem described in the letter is staggering. We look forward to how these matters have been treated by the SIT Report.
Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP
VIJAY PANDHARE WRITES TO DR. MADHAV CHITALE, MARCH 2013
Vijay Balawant Pandhare
Maharashtra Engineering Research Institute, Nashik, and
Member, State Technical Advisory Committee,
Dt- 16th March 2013
Shri. Madhavrav Chitale,
Special Investigation Team,
Subject- About inquiry into technical and financial discrepancies in Water Resources Department of Maharashtra
Regarding the subject sited above, it is learned through news reports of 6th March 2013 and through the broadcasts of Marathi news channels that, you have wrote to the Leader of Opposition Mr. Vinod Tawade stating your committee is not empowered to inquire officers and political representatives.
In fact, while determining the mandate of your committee TORs explicitly mention “fixing the responsibility against any discrepancy and suggesting suitable action against it”. The government has clearly mentioned in your mandate that “fix the responsibility against the discrepancy”. So, your stand that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) doesn’t have any investigating power is against this mandate. It is like Lord Ram deciding that he will not attack the evil spirit or will not oppose it. If you are not going to unmask these corrupt spirits through the special investigation team, would we have the moral right to seek respite from Lord Ram? Moderate and honest people like you are required to lead the bandwagon against such corrupt people and dishonest mentality. Such an opportunity is created because of the constitution of SIT. We believe that you would capitalize on it. ( Emphasis added, throughout the letter) The anarchy created in Water Resources Department is because of the non-functional office-bearers. If the officers would have been alert and selfless, such a catastrophic situation would have never come, however, it has been difficult in our times to see good officers rising through the ranks. It seems that picture would be very gloomy from here on. Therefore, it is your first responsibility to identify people who are responsible for such a situation, those who have created discrepancies and fix the responsibilities. After outlining the mandate, the state government has thrown a ball in your (SIT) court. Therefore, it will not be acceptable to adopt a stand which turns a blind eye towards all of these malpractices. The government has nowhere said that the committee has not investigative powers. The very name of the committee itself is a “Special”. Isn’t it contradictory to take up such a stand when the committee itself is called “Special Investigation Team” then? On the other hand, the committee should ask for complaints from all the people and investigate them all. But your stand seems to be something else altogether. Please don’t continue with that. (Emphasis added). There is no prohibition on any committee for accepting complaints from the people and collecting sufficient information pertaining to the investigation. If the committees like Vadnere, Kolwale, Mendhegiri etc. can determine the responsibilities on the defaulters, why can’t the SIT under Mr. Chitale?
Earlier officers never took a firm stand against such malpractices which eventually culminated to degradation of Irrigation department. The responsibility of improving the situation has been entrusted with your team, otherwise, history will never forgive us. If the committee is going to be escapist about the issue of corruption, then it is better that you resign , listening to your inner voice, because such escapism would not be in the interest of the state. I can understand (although don’t justify) the attitude of political representatives about the scam, but honorable people like you need to take a strong stand to make the department disciplined. Im sure that escaping from this duty and saying that Pseical investigation team does not have the power to investigate is not something that your conscience would agree with. Despite that, your statement regarding Tawade’s letteris a clear indication that the team would shy away from such investigation. To improve the situation in Irrigation department, some surgical measures should be taken otherwise the financial crisis of the state would persist in the foreseeable future. I want to remind you that around 14-15 years back we personally met in Aurangabad and I had told you how pathetic and corrupt the administration has become. That time too, you had said that the political representatives have taken charge of everything and you were resigned in saying that it’s difficult to change the situation. But now the destiny has entrusted you with the responsibility to end these malpractices. We request you to please carry it out with the help of Mr. Ranade. It would be very unfortunate for Maharashtra if you are not going to fix the responsibilities against the observed malpractices, something which is clearly in the mandate of your team. If the projects are not getting completed even after 25-30 years, isn’t it a serious blunder by the policy makers? Shouldn’t we fix the responsibility ? Is it not sinful to float tenders, make payments against inflated costs, financially weaken the state and push people into drought situations? If you’re not going to prevent such practices, then who will? I was extremely surprised to learn about your stand. If you really want to serve for the betterment of Maharashtra, then taking a strong stand against such practices so that nobody would dare to tread this path is very much expected from you. If we all decide, then we will have “Ram-rajya” in our country. But if we are moving away from Lord Ram’s ideals, we have no turn to him for the help. (Emphasis added)
I’m enlisting the discrepancies that I observed while working in Water Resources Department. Kindly investigate them and fix the responsibilities against the defaulters so that nobody would ever dare to indulge in such practices.
Discrepancy No. 1-
Without investigating or envisaging properly, irrigation development corporations have approved budgets with inflated costs and have granted tenders at higher price to the contractors. This has resulted in wastage of billions of rupees of public funds. We request you to thoroughly investigate all the discrepancies and fix the responsibilities. So that, no political representative or contractor or engineer would ever indulge into it. If no inquiry is conducted, these people would keep looting the state as well as nation with boosted confidence. That’s why the honest and selfless people should try to prevent such malpractices otherwise it is beyond doubt that our coming generations, our nation and the democracy will have a dark future.
For example, please note the projects in Tapi Irrigation Development Corporation-
- A. Sulwade Lift Irrigation Scheme (Cost ₹ 2100 Cr)
- B. Bodwad Lift Irrigation Scheme ( Cost ₹ 2200 Cr)
- C. Prakasha-Burai Lift Irrigation Scheme (Cost ₹ 700 Cr)
- D. Varangaon-talwel Lift Irrigation Scheme
- E. Padmalay Lift Irrigation Scheme
- F. Kurha-vadoda Lift Irrigation Scheme
Like these, thousands of tenders have been awarded. It is requested to permanently stop such cases.
Discrepancy No. 2
The projects that have been approved by respective development corporations have always witnessed increase in their scopes. You can find many such projects. White paper enlists such modifications under each scheme. Such modifications/ increments have been approved without giving proper thought to their impacts and hence these projects are bound to fail. Because, the projects which have been approved at inflated costs get less funds allocations and eventually results in the projects remaining incomplete for more than three decades and there is no way these projects would be complete in next 30 years either. Therefore, the officers and politicians who approved such changes should be held responsible for these discrepancies.
The way in which each development corporation has cited their cost break-up would stun anyone. It is clear that the interests and the benefits of the contractors have been secured by employing multiple tricks. It has been a very common trend in Konkan and Vidarbh Irrigation Development Corporations. Other corporations are not an exception either. The episode of the inflated costs paid against the steel pipes in Jigaon Project Lift Irrigation Scheme is indeed well-known. Vidarbh Irrigation Development Corporation itself has cancelled ₹ 2900 Cr tenders because those were based on such inflated costs. We request the SIT to investigate such discrepancies in the budget of the said projects. To prevent such incidences from happening again, such incidences should be thoroughly investigated and defaulters must be brought to the book. Please investigate the cost sheets of following items-
- 1. Hearting and casing items
- 2. Pitching items
- 3. Rising main and steel pipe items in lift irrigation schemes
- 4. Radial gate fabrication rates
- 5. Dewatering items, excessive dewatering
- 6. Concrete and masonry items
The SIT should also probe the various reasons cited for increasing the costs.
There have been humongous discrepancies in the “C” grade tenders. In most of the cases, despite being “C” level tender, “EIRL”s of hundreds of thousands of rupees have been passed and even the claims have been settled too. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate all the EIRLs and claims against them from all the development corporations. The SIT should ask for information in a tabular form about all the EIRLs and respective settled claims from all the irrigation development corporations, and probe the serious cases. Otherwise there would be no check on such malpractices. For example, I’m referring to the Nardawe project EIRL here. Despite being a “C” tender, KIDC (Kokan irrigation Development Corporation) has granted EIRLs worth ₹ 30-40 Cr. Moreover, it has also settled the claims for machinery idle charges without taking due permission from the state government. Due to less availability of funds, the contractors have made it a trend to show that their machinery have been idle on paper and have been receiving the idling charges. Big projects have been approved with administrative approvals and now idling charges are being paid citing the unavailability/ insufficiency of funds. Projects are incomplete for years because of unavailability of funds and according to price escalation clause of the tenders, hundreds of thousands of crores are being paid to the contractors. The situation is so grim that the actual expense incurred on work is marginal and that on price the escalation is multifold. For example, let’s see the Sulwade Lift Irrigation Scheme of Tapi Irrigation Development Corporation. Work order was granted 14 years ago. Because of unavailability of funds, ₹ 15 Cr have been spent on the actual work. However, during the same period, the price escalation has been of ₹ 700 Cr! There are many such projects which have not begun in last 14 years. The responsibilities of such agonizing planning must be fixed on responsible people.
Discrepancy No. 5-
The earthen dams which are being constructed under B-1 tender, exhibit “excessive” cross-sections while the works under “C” tender have “under-sized” cross sections. Engineers from Central Design Organisation: MERI must have had a hand in this. This is commonly known but nobody talks about it. The best example of how these engineers from the mentioned organizations have given wrong design is of Radial gates. The variations made for the same sized radial gates are worth visiting. The radial gates size of Gosi-khurd, Shelgaon barrage, and Lower Tapti projects are same. In fact, their weights should have been more or less identical. But, their weightages have been absolutely irrational. Weightage of Lower Tapti is 208 MT/Gate but that of Gosikhurd has 159 MT/ gate weightage. This one example is sufficient. The weight of steel has been increased by around 1000 folds. To stop such things, SIT should give special emphasis on such practices and prevent their repetition. Against this backdrop, Konkan, Krishna valley, Tapti, Godavari and Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporations should be thoroughly investigated. Nardawe project of KIDC has two Cut of trench (COT). Such technical irregularities have been followed which must be stopped. The investigation of Balganga project would yield many shocking cases. It would be interesting to check how much cement grouting and expenses have been incurred to stop the leakage of Bhatsa project.
There have been numerous attempts in Maharashtra to raise the height of the dam wall. The existing dams do not get completely filled in the first place. Despite that, the department has consented to raise the dam wall height in hundreds of dams. Raising height has always been an expensive affair which has resulted in increased expenses. It has been a norm with Maharashtra’s Irrigation Department that anybody would ask for raising the height and the department would float the tender. Considering the availability of funds with the state, contemplative policy makers would not have indulged in such things. But the unwise leadership has encouraged such attempts and dealt a permanent damage to all of us. It is clear that receiving cuts (percentages) against floating tenders has been a common norm here. If you would enlist the projects which witnessed such height raising, the SIT would understand the irregularities.
Discrepancy No. 7-
Many high cost and unviable projects have been undertaken/ are proposed to be undertaken under the name of increasing irrigation. When there has been no feasibility on the site, is there a case for floating high cost budget? While we have shortage of funds, such expensive affairs would not have been advisable. But some political representatives and engineers have made us bankrupt. I’m enlisting few projects here, the SIT should probe into them-
- 1. Manjarpada Project Phase 1, Nashik
- 2. Nerdhamne Project- Akola
- 3. Shahapur Project- Akola
- 4. Waghadi Project- Amaravati
- 5. Chandrabhaga Project- Amaravati
- 6. Kawatha Project- Amaravati
Despite the financial crunch in the state, nobody has bothered to talk sense into the cost estimates. How could we ever adopt the projects worth ₹ 15, 10, 5, 4, 3, and 2 thousand crores? The SIT must probe into this. It shows the prevalent mentality of satisfying political agendas from public funds and siphoning it off as much as possible. It is our responsibility to uproot such mentalities. Otherwise the democracy will not survive. We will see selfish anarchy rising in our country. We have come a long way from selfless leaders like Gandhi- Nehru to our current tender-floater leadership.
There is an urgent need to probe the tunnel works being done in Krishna river valley. There have been many tunneling works undertaken in Krishna valley without any rational basis. If one checks the rate analysis of all the excavation work, the rates would appear to have been inflated. There have been many big tunnels undertaken instead of small ones. It is a common practice to float the tender with small sized tunnels and increasing the size of the tunnel later on. SIT should probe into the works undertaken for all the tunnels so that such mistakes won’t be repeated. If the team would investigate the tunnel works in Manjarpada-1 project, such practices would be unmasked.
Many projects have been granted water availability certificates from the जलविज्ञान कार्यालय (Hydrology Project) of the government as a special case, which are violations of law. The SIT should make a list of all such cases and probe them to avoid repetitions. Despite the lack of water, projects are undertaken and then they never fill up for years together. Painaganga valley has seen several such examples and still, the water availability certificates have been granted 1.5 times more than the actual water availability on ground. We request you to investigate them all.
Discrepancy No 10-
There has been no master plan for any of the irrigation development corporation approved at the government level. In absence of approved master plan, the projects have been pushed forward. We would not have been in such an unfortunate situation if the state government would have prepared a master plan and then adopted the projects accordingly. Policy makers and secretary level bureaucrats are responsible for not approving such a master plan. There is a need to fix the responsibility of this irregularity and the government must plan its irrigation-related works according to a master plan. But some political leaders don’t let this happen because they want to earn unfair profits out of it. Kindly suggest a measure which would permanently do away with this malpractice.
Discrepancy No 11-
There has been an unfortunate trend in Maharashtra of showing a new project as a part of old project on the papers and floating the tenders without taking administrative approval. Hundreds of projects have been undertaken in such a fashion. SIT should ask for the information from all the development corporations and fix the responsibility of respective irregularity. 12 barrages of Godavari, Manjarpada 1 project could be cited for example. Therefore, we request you to suggest a permanent solution against this malpractice.
Discrepancy No. 12-
It is such a shame that the projects are not being completed for 20-40 years. It reflects our poor thinking and planning. We need to put a cap on the budgets of the projects. The planning should be such that any project must be completed within 5 years. We should stop the costs of projects running as high as ₹ 5, 10, 15 thousand crores. If the political leaders from the areas of Takari, Mhaisal, Tembhu lift irrigation schemes have not been able to complete these projects despite being in power, when would the projects of other areas be completed? The team must contemplate on this and create a work discipline in Maharashtra. Kindly fix the responsibility for taking so many lift irrigation schemes when not even 1% of the 300 schemes undertaken by the irrigation department are operational. Kindly suggest the measures for future so as to prevent the wastage of public funds.
Discrepancy No. 13-
There have been many irregularities in Mechanical department (यांत्रिकी विभाग) of Water Resources Department. Vigilance cell has received many complaints. Executive engineer, vigilance team, Pune has submitted the report to the government saying there have been humungous irregularities in the Mechanical wing. I request to inquire into it so that there would be a discipline within the mechanical wing. Nobody is paying attention to irregularities in that division.
Discrepancy No. 14-
There has been no provision for technical audit in the department. Therefore, there has never been a verification of technical matters. To prohibit people from indulging in technically flawed work, it is requested to start a technical audit on the basis of AG. Therefore, there would be check on technically flawed decisions. All planning has collapsed because of the wrong estimates.
Discrepancy No 15-
Currently the state government doesn’t supply the cement for the project works, contractors buy it on their own. Therefore, the department has lost control on cement usage. There has been a tremendous corruption in cement related matters. The main reason behind stopping the supply of cement has been that the contractors find it difficult of sell the cement after the work is done. However, no irrigation development corporation has ever undertaken the thorough check up of delivery challan and excise gate passes as per the tender conditions. Therefore, there is a huge corruption in cement usage. SIT can easily prove it. There would be a shocking revelation- and it should come out- if once checks the used cement, verified delivery challans and gate passes. Every engineer knows it but they prefer to keep quiet. But, SIT should probe this and fix the responsibilities. 23 km long lining of Gosikhurd Left Bank Canal has been completely taken out because of the poor quality. The reports of executive engineers of Maharashtra Engineering Research Institute (MERI), exposing the poor quality of work done in Lower Tapi and Tarali have been suppressed. Please at least stop this corruption by supplying cement to contractors. People would be grateful to you if you could do that.
Discrepancy No. 16-
There have been too many irregularities in the irrigation department under the name of Arbitration. A closer look at all the cases of arbitration would surface these irregularities and malpractices. Especially in Marathwada, Pune, Konkan divisions and more so, in Koyana project, the corruption has been many folds. The arbitration has been the best example of how the officials indulge in corruption instead of taking the decisions in the best interest of the country. Therefore, there is a need to re-audit all the arbitration cases. Please suggest strong measures to prevent such things from happening again.
Discrepancy No. 17-
Right now, the IPI circles are almost equal to none in the water resources department. Therefore, the contractors themselves prepare the budget estimates. They prepare the estimates as they please, get them approved using political pressures and siphon off the public funds. That’s a norm! This has to stop immediately and the department must newly create IPI circles in each regional department. Isn’t it obvious to the government? To the political representatives? But they all have deliberately made those mistakes. I request to find the defaulters in those cases.
Discrepancy No 18-
Earlier the state also used to provide steel to the contractors. But now contractors themselves buy the steel. Like cement, the department has lost its control on steel usage and the risk of re-rolling steel being used in the work has increased. This is indeed serious. Therefore, it is requested that the steel should be supplied under Schedule-A like before. People who have taken such wrong decisions must be identified along with their faults.
Discrepancy No. 19-
I also request you to probe into all the steel gate fabrication works done by contractors for the rates of fabrication. In Jigaon Lift Irrigation Scheme, the fabrication rates- like the steel pipe rates- have been divorced from reality. If you would check the gates on Tapi, you can realize how the costs have been inflated. If all the irrigation development corporations are asked to submit the steel fabrication rates, irregularities of crores of rupees would be exposed.
Discrepancy No 20-
There has been a tremendous corruption in all the corporations under the clause 38 and claims. Therefore, it is requested that all the clause 38 and claims cases of all the corporations be investigated. One would be surprised by the subsequent revelation of how the costs and respective works are inflated. It is worth investigating how the officers and politicians have joined hands to commit “mistakes”. Engineers know the kind of pressure and tensions faced by the good officers who were opposing these decisions. Everybody knows how the people opposing it were insulted. These incidences are common in KIDC and so also in other corporations. Those should be investigated.
Discrepancy No. 21-
Cost of many items has been inflated beyond comprehension in all the corporations. It would be really an eye-opener exercise to check how the revised administrative approvals have been granted year-wise. For example, if you would compare the earlier tenders with the budget estimates in the Tapi Irrigation Development Corporation, you would easily find the irregularities. They have been happening all over. The rates have been inflated tremendously. Comparing the rate analysis method that was adopted before 1980 and the one in effect now would prove it. By use of machines, the rates should have actually gone down but they have been raised by deploying various tricks. Investigating in such cost escalation and finding the defaulters is the need of the hour so that nobody would ever dare to indulge in such malpractices.
Discrepancy No 22-
The tenders have been awarded with high costs across all the corporations. If the true competitive bidding would have taken place, the tenders would have been awarded with 25-30% lesser rates and the works would have also been done because the rates of the rate index were higher as well. Instead of that the tenders are awarded with the higher percentage. Everyone knows how the tenders are floated at the government level. SIT should probe into all the tenders which have been awarded above percentage. The 3 large bridges which were built by Tapti Irrigation Development Corporation in the submergence area are higher than the current rate index by 60%, 70% and 80%. This is a serious irregularity. Probing into such high cost tenders awarded by all the corporations would yield the serious corruption in public expenditure. That’s why ₹ 2900 Cr tenders had to be cancelled in one go. Such a shame!
The costs of barrages built on Godavari, are raised by constructing a large dam without any reason. This is a shameful waste of money when there has been a financial crisis. Everybody has fallen prey to such hideous plans. All of these actions should be investigated into and the defaulters must be brought to the book.
Discrepancy No. 23-
Some of the irregularities have been brought to your notice. Apart from these, it is requested to you to suggest strong measures to prevent ground level and foundation level scams. Please assign at least three people to cross check such activities. It saddens me to think how much state is losing in all of such scams. But everyone seems to have become insensitive. Those who oppose it are transferred. Politicians don’t even know about technical sins. We need to stop all such mismanagement and misuse of power. The crimes pertaining to such adjustments would be exposed by checking the earlier Cement delivery chalan and gate passes of RA-bills.
Discrepancy No 24-
All the corporations have been routinely floating the tenders for a project based on the designs of other project and later on escalating the costs by several folds based actual design. It is requested that such information be collected from all the corporations and identifying the responsible people so that these irregularities would never occur.
Discrepancy No 25-
The high cost tenders are floated just to siphon off public funds. What can you call this practice- of preparing a budget estimate with hundreds of thousand crores, awarding the tender, spending around ₹ 10-15 Cr only in the beginning against the advance, and then for next 14 years, the project doesn’t get any money while the cost of the project rises from ₹ 600 Cr to ₹ 2100 Cr!
Do you think these projects would ever be complete? The worst cases in this regards are Sulwadi, Jamphal Lift Irrigation Scheme, Prakasha-Burai Lift Irrigation schemes etc. The tenders of hundreds of thousands of rupees of the projects on which less than 25 % of funds have been spent must be cancelled with immediate effect. Instead, the works costing less than ₹ 100 Cr should be undertaken otherwise the state would never come out of the financial crunch.
Discrepancy No 26-
There needs to be a thorough investigation into Takari, Tembhu, Mhaisal Lift Irrigation Schemes. Despite spending crores of rupees in last 25 years, the farmers are not getting water. The responsible people must be unmasked after thorough investigation. The machinery installed 20-25 years ago has its days numbered. Isn’t the expenditure totally wasted? What is the use of the projects which can’t even irrigate 10-15 % of the promised irrigated area? It is requested that kindly compile the information from respective departments and probe into them. Please suggest strict measures about Lift Irrigation Schemes as well. (It is also requested that please investigate Krishna Marathwada Lift Irrigation Schemes, Khuntefal storage lake, Kurha- Vadoda Lift Irrigation Schemes as well).
Discrepancy No 27-
Granting the advance money while there is no provision in the tender has also been one of the unfortunate norms. It is requested to collect the information from the respective corporations and identify the defaulters. For example- Five lift irrigation schemes of the Tapi Irrigation Development Corporation.
Discrepancy No. 28-
All the irrigation development corporations have indulged in floating and awarding the tenders without legitimate surveys and optimum designs. I request you to seek the information on all such cases and find the defaulters. All the “C” Tenders awarded in the state fall under this irregularity. Therefore, please fix the responsibility of such “C” Tenders after conducting due investigations, especially in case of “C” tenders awarded under Krishna valley, Tapti and Kokan irrigation development corporation.
Discrepancy No. 29-
We have many projects in Maharashtra which have violated the I. S. Code norms and received approvals. 12 barrages on Godavari are the best examples of such violations. I would not be surprised if sooner or later these barrages would create some or the other kind of problem. Not taking flood design into account as per I. S. Code, especially in case of river like Godavari, is a serious blunder. I request you to investigate all such cases from respective corporations and fix the responsibilities.
Discrepancy No 30-
All the corporations have been floating and awarding the tenders without completing land-acquisition and rehabilitation of the affected families and obviously projects keep lagging for years together in absence of such important formalities. It is requested to find the responsible people and fix their responsibility
Discrepancy No 31-
It’s an open secret why the files are sent back to cabinet minister for “Liability Sanction” after completing all the due procedures of awarding the tender. The truth would come out if the data-wise investigations are carried in all such cases of liability sanction. Such kind of hegemony never takes place in any of the states in India. Please look into the matter and suggest preventive measures.
Discrepancy No 32-
In most of the estimates about the projects of Konkan and Vidarbha, though the excavation works have been done with the help of machinery, lift schemes are proposed in the rate analysis. So also in cases of pit filling works done using the machinery of hearting. Please summon the respective corporations over such irregularities, ask for the detailed reports and fix the responsibilities on defaulters.
Discrepancy No 33-
The budgets and estimates prepared by all the corporations are never checked/ cross-checked properly and are directly submitted to the state technical advisory committee. All the irrigation development corporations have been indulging into this. Nobody has so far been suspended no matter how many blunders the person committed. So, everyone has become fearless of law and the politicians have become god fathers of such corrupt people. Kindly investigate into all such matters and find the defaulters so that such activities would stop.
I’ve highlighted some of the major irregularities happening in the department. I request the SIT to come out with the measures which would prevent repetition of such things. It is further requested to take away powers to transfer the officers from politicians. The situation would be much different if the politicians are kept out of these transfer mechanisms.
Also, there should be no involvement of politicians as far as tender processes are concerned. The unfathomable corruption in tender processes would stop only if the politicians are kept at bay. Kindly recommend robust measures for that.
Lastly, I beg you for recommending the government to move away from constructing large dams, big canals, huge lift schemes, and budgets spanning over millions of rupees etc. otherwise the situation would never improve.
There is a need to revisit the fundamentals of irrigation schemes and adopt small dams, water conservation measures like Shirpur patterns etc. Large dams should be taken up only in exceptional cases. The situation seems pretty grim considering the large dams, canals, and distribution networks that we have undertaken in last 50 years. We need to check if the area which was supposed to be irrigated, has really been benefited. There is no point in digging wells for the purpose of percolation either. What has happened to the commitment that we had made in the beginning? Its review would prove that our total irrigation efficiency doesn’t even exceed 15%. So please review and revisit our irrigation policies. The state would have had much better irrigation had the Shirpur of such small, appropriate technology patterns had been adopted. Unfortunately the state has suffered the most because of the people with insatiable greed for power and money- be it engineers, or politicians or contractors. The political leaders have stripped the state of all its possessions. Therefore, I beg you to drastically change the irrigation policy. I pray to the ultimate creator that you would change the situation for the betterment of Maharashtra.
It does not matter if the team would need an extension, or if an additional investigation team would be composed, but, please create an order in the state.
Chief Engineer META and
Member, State Technical Advisory Committee
Letter dates 20.02.12 ( 9 pages)
Letter dated 5.5.12 (15 Pages)
Letter dated 12.10.12 ( 4 pages)
Hon. Governor, GOM, Mumbai for appropriate instructions
Hon. Chief Minister, GOM, Mumbai for appropriate instructions
Hon. Chief. Secy, GOM, Mumbia for appropriate action
Hon. Principal Secy, Irrigation Department, GOM, Mumbai
Shri. V. M. Ranade, Retd. Secy and Member, SIT
Translated from Marathi to English by Damodar Pujari
 From SANDRP: TORs of SIT , GOM, 31 December 2012, Point No. 2.9 States: If irregularity found in the investigation, it should be investigated, responsibility should be fixed and action to be taken should be suggested.
 We have shifted the placing to this para