Maharashtra government agrees to SIT probe in irrigation 'scam'

Indo Asian News Service

Nagpur, Dec 17 (IANS) Blinking first, the Maharashtra government Monday agreed to set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the allegations of corruption in the state irrigation department.

Water Resources Minister Sunil Tatkare made the announcement in both houses of the state legislature after a belligerent opposition managed to stall all legislative proceedings for a week now.

"We have considered all aspects of the situation and then decided to appointed an SIT to enquire into the matter," Tatkare told media persons outside the legislature later.

He said that the head and members of the SIT, the time-frame for the probe and other issues will be announced before Dec 31.

A victorious Vinod Tawade, leader of opposition in the council, welcomed the announcement and expressed satisfaction over the government's decision.

"From day one, when the 'White Paper' was presented by the state government, I have maintained that it was a 'Whitewash' and demanded an SIT to probe the irrigation department scam," Tawade said.

He demanded that the SIT should be headed by a respected technocrat like Madhav Chitale so that all aspects of the alleged scam could be exposed.

Though Tatkare said Chitale's name was considered, he remained vague whether he (Chitale) would head the SIT.

Tawade expressed hope that the SIT probe would reveal the actual truth about the alleged Rs.30,000 crore irrigation department scam before the people of the state.

Since last Monday, when the winter session of the state legislature opened in the state's second capital Nagpur, the opposition managed to stall its proceedings, insisting on an SIT probe into the allged scam.

Barring the obituary references and some other mandatory issues, the house virtually remained non-functional with processions, walk-outs, disruptions and adjournments everyday.

It is expected that the rest of the session - expected to end Dec 21 - will now pass off peacefully and the legislators might get down to serious business.