The Maharashtra government on Tuesday ordered an inquiry into the previous government’s ambitious project Jalyukt Shivar scheme. A committee of four people has been formed under the chairmanship of retired Additional Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar.
The committee will submit its report in six months and will also give a report on its progress every month. The scheme was the dream plan of former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. After the government of Mahavikas Aghadi, this plan was postponed.
The ‘Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyaan’, a pet project of Devendra Fadnavis, was launched in 2014 with the objective of making Maharashtra drought-free by 2019. The Jalyukt project involved deepening and widening of streams, construction of cement and earthen stop dams, work on nullahs and digging of farm ponds.
On October 16, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had said there was no vendetta behind the decision to launch a probe into the Jalyukt Shivar scheme, and claimed that the water conservation minister in the previous Devendra Fadnavis government had himself admitted to “irregularities” in it.
The state government had ordered a probe into the project and announced a Special Investigation Team (SIT) would investigate it as the CAG had raised questions on the quality of work and results achieved. The BJP has alleged that there was “political vendetta” behind the decision to conduct a probe.
“The probe has not been announced intentionally or out of vendetta. This is not deliberate. After the CAG report was discussed in the cabinet, the chief minister said a probe should be conducted,” Pawar had told reporters. He had said there was no need to look into a political angle into the probe being ordered.
Shiv Sena, whose president Uddhav Thackeray is now the state chief minister, was also a part of the Fadnavis-led government during 2014-2019. However, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report submitted to the state legislature had observed that the scheme, under which Rs 9,633.75 crore were spent, was not much effective. It had little impact in achieving water neutrality and increasing the groundwater level and its execution was characterized by lack of transparency, the CAG had said.