Mumbai, Sep 26 (IANS) Social activist Arvind Kejriwal Wednesday demanded a SIT probe into all irrigation projects in Maharashtra in the last 10 years amid allegations that Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar arbitrarily doled out irrigation contracts worth over Rs.20,000 crore.
India Against Corruption (IAC) had Tuesday claimed credit for Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar's resignation from the state cabinet, who is being named as the key perpetrator of the alleged scam.
"The Special Investigative Team (SIT) should be constituted under retired Supreme Court judges. There is a need to examine each project and to uncover the economic extent of the scam, the violations, the environmental damage, and the abuse of the rights of the villagers and adivasis (tribals)," Kejriwal said while addressing media persons here.
"The inquiry should explore every aspect of this dam which is not just about money but about large scale loot of national resources. In their greed to make money, the perpetrators have shamelessly looted all natural resources, broken every law and unleashed misery upon misery on villagers," he added.
Pawar resigned Tuesday under a cloud of allegations that he had arbitrarily doled out irrigation contracts worth over Rs.20,000 crore when he was the water resources minister 1999-2009, before he was elevated as deputy chief minister and handled the plum finance and energy portfolios.
IAC activists Anjali Damania and Mayank Gandhi also accompanied Kejriwal. Gandhi said that the irrigation scam has had large scale ramifications. He alleged that the farmers are losing their lives but the NCP held irrigation ministry blatantly violated all laws to perpetrate the loot.
Damania said that despite offers and threats, she has persevered in her work. She said she approached the government, the media and even the opposition.
"But I was shocked when a national leader told me that they would not be in a position to help," Damania said.
Kejriwal, however, said that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan should not fall prey to the pressure tactics of the NCP and should accept Pawar's resignation immediately.
He also demanded immediate resignation of Irrigation Minister Sunil Tatkare, in order that the "inquiry be carried out without hindrance".
"We also demand that the chief engineers of the five irrigation divisions Konkan, Vidarbha, Marathwada, Krishna Valley and Godavari be suspended for the inquiry and all relevant documents sealed," he said.