Mumbai: Congress's arch rival Shiv Sena Sunday appreciated Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan for ordering a probe into the irrigation scam in Maharashtra, estimated to run into over Rs.20,000 crore, over which NCP leader Ajit Pawar was forced to quit as deputy chief minister.
Appreciating Chavan for "showing courage", Shiv Sena's executive president Uddhav Thackeray said it is not an easy task to order such a massive probe while he is under tremendous pressure from alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Earlier Sunday, Chavan confirmed that he had ordered a probe against 45 officials of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) for their alleged involvement in the scam.
"Chavan has been under tremendous pressure from NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his nephew (former deputy chief minister) Ajit Pawar. They met him separately in the last two days to discuss the issue," Thackeray told media persons.
"However, the inquiry (should) be in-depth and should nail those guilty even if they are ministers. The probe should be finished in a specific time frame," he added.
Thackeray also said that Congress should stay strong and not replace the chief minister under NCP's pressure. He indicated that the probe might take a back seat if Chavan is shunted out.
Chavan had said that all engineers will now face probe on several counts including not supervising works on site and not following tender conditions.
A one-man committee of retired bureaucrat Nandkumar Vadnere was set up in March 2010 that dwelt on allowing excessive charges in some contracts. Vadnere also probed reports of cost escalations and official-contractor-politician nexus in approving irrigation projects.
Last month, NCP leader Ajit Pawar quit as the deputy chief minister after his name cropped up for alleged irregularities in the irrigation department which he headed between 1999-2009.