Vindicated, says Maha Congress on 'graft' in BJP's water scheme

Mumbai, Jul 22 (IANS): The Maharashtra Congress said on Thursday that it has been proved right by a recent probe report confirming the corruption indulged in by the previous BJP-led government in the state in its Jalayukta Shivar Yojana, a rural water scheme.

State Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said that since 2015, the party had repeatedly accused then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' government of "massive corruption in the JSY scheme", which benefited contractors close to the BJP, instead of the farmers.

"The enquiry committee report has not only confirmed the corruption in the JSY scheme, but also passed strong strictures. In the report submitted to the state government, it has recommended 900 cases for enquiry by the Anti Corruption Bureau and 100 others for department probes," said Sawant.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress had set up a probe committee headed by retired bureaucrat Vijay Kumar after a CAG Report confirmed the graft in the JSY.

Among other things, the CAG repot had affirmed to the corruption in the JSY and felt that there is need to go to the root of the malpractices in the scheme, Sawant pointed out.

Welcoming the probe panel's recommendations, Sawant said the JSY's original objective was to arrest the rainwater in the village areas, increase the groundwater levels and irrigation areas and raise the efficiency of water usage.

"However, the JSY scheme failed miserably in achieving any or all of these objectives. The Congress had raised the issue of how it was embroiled in corruption way back in 2015 and was a lucrative money-making magnet for the BJP's cronies and contractors," Sawant said.

The Congress leader pointed out that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had lauded the scheme saying 16,000 villages became 'drought-free' and another 9,000 would soon become 'water-sufficient'.

But, in just eight days, the then government had to declare all the so-called 'drought-free' villages as 'drought-hit', proving hollow all the claims made the by Fadnavis government, he added.

"Despite spending around Rs 10,000 crore on JSY, more than 7,000 tankers were deployed to supply water to the villages in the state in May 2019. A 2018 groundwater survey and development agency report said the groundwater level in 13,984 villages had plummeted by more than one metre and the groundwater levels in 31,015 had dropped," Sawant said.

Despite this, the Fadnavis government kept praising the scheme to keep the interests of the contractors alive, and spent hundreds of crores of rupees on fake advertisements like "I Am The Beneficiary" but actually showed BJP workers as the beneficiaries, he said.

The Congress had pointed out that the JYS was an utter failure, and that the work was done in an unscientific manner, while the JCBs dug shallow pits that stored only sludge instead of water, and many works in the scheme were not audited.

"Now that the probe panel report is received, the MVA government should ensure action to punish all those involved in the corruption in the scheme," Sawant demanded.



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Title: Vindicated, says Maha Congress on 'graft' in BJP's water scheme

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