Gadkari lobbies for contractors
TSI TEAM | New Delhi, October 5, 2012 11:19
nitin gadkari | pawan bansal | letter | controversy |
National President of the Bhartiya Janata Party Nitin Gadkari has landed himself in yet another controversy. This time the storm is over a letter he wrote to Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Bansal demanding immediate payment of Rs 400 crore to contractors engaged in a Maharashtra irrigation project. One of the said contractors is considered to be Gadkari’s close aide.
Though Gadkari mentioned no names in the letter sent to Bansal in July this year, the BJP chief's detractors allege that it was aimed at benefiting his associate Ajay Sancheti. Apart from Gadkari, another senior party functionary Prakash Javadekar is also believed to have shot off a letter to Bansal recommending immediate payment to contractors.
Ironically, two other BJP Members of Parliament, Haribhai Javale and Anandrao Adasul have lodged written complaints against the same contractors, requesting Bansal to block their payments. Haribhai Javale is also a member of Parliamentary Committee on Water Resources. Gadkari has recommended in his letter to Bansal to ignore the complaints filed by his party MPs.
Gosikhurd, one of the irrigation projects in question, is already embroiled in an alleged scam involving NCP leader Ajit Pawar who had to quit recently in the wake of a big campaign mounted by the BJP against him on charges of corruption.
India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Anjali Damania had alleged a week ago that that Gadkari was refusing to take a stand on the Rs.70,000 crore scam in the construction of dams in Maharashtra since he had a ‘business relationship’ with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar.
IAC activists allege that the Congress, BJP and NCP are partners in the alleged scam. They accuse NCP ministers of playing a crucial role in awarding the contracts to contractors close to leaders in the BJP and Congress.
Gadkari however has denied all charges. Clarifying his stand to reporters, Gadkari said that he had written the letter asking the Centre to release funds to help the farmers. “I wrote a letter to Bansal and will write 10 more... It was done in the interest of the farmers of Maharashtra, to prevent farmer suicides in Vidarbha,” Gadkari told newspersons in Mumbai.
Huge irregularities in the construction of dams have been reported in Maharashtra amidst regular farmer suicides over the past few years. In the last ten years alone, 1821 dams were constructed in the state at a cost of Rs 70,000 crores. In the same period, around 54,000 farmers committed suicide.