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Kondhane Dam project scrapped, 'India Against Corruption' calls it 'big victory'
Faced with the complaints of flouting of all guidelines in granting the project to a favoured contractor and not seeking permission from neither the forest department nor the Archaelogical Survey of India, Maharashtra State Water Resource Department has scrapped the Kondhane Dam project.

THE ATMOSPHERE at the 'India Against Corruption' (IAC) office in Mumbai on Friday was one of joy and relief, as the news that government had scrapped the Kondhane Dam Project broke. The untiring efforts of a team from the group to expose the violations in granting this project had finally fructified.

The state water resources department terminated the contract for the project after an enquiry by secretary EB Patil on orders from governor K Sankaranarayanan, following complaints from IAC.

“This is a big win for IAC Mumbai which has worked relentlessly to expose the violations that took place in order to grant this project to a favoured contractor and the absurd violation in project cost,”IAC said in a press release.

Patil, according to Hindustan Times, wrote in his communication to governor that the dam was taken up without fulfilling the conditions, mentioned in the administrative approval and instructions have been issued to executive director, Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation to terminate the contract.

KIDC awarded the work to F A Enterprises for Rs 56.17 crore, but flouting all norms, within a month, it increased the price to Rs 328 crore, a shocking 500% jump.

Sought to be constructed over the river Ullas, the dam would have reportedly submerged about 1000 acres of land, more than half of which falls under forest land. The dam would have affected three tribal villages, Umbarwadi, Turicha tek and Mundewadi, according to IAC.

“Construction started and continued without the permission of MOEF, Railway Authorities and the Archeological Survey of India despite the fact that large tract of forest land is going to be affected, the dam is close to a railway line (and stop work notices are issued by the Railway authorities) and ancient monuments are going to be affected,” IAC claimed in a press release.

Anjali Damania and Mayank Gandhi, IAC complainants had highlighted illegalities in the project, including the flawed tendering process. “The Superintending Engineer, Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation has approved and issued a blank Tender Document, which lays out a detailed procedure that must be followed in the tendering activities carried under the aegis of Water Resources Department. The tendering process carried out by Executive Engineer, Raigad Irrigation Division, Kolad, completely flouts these very guidelines,” according to the press release.

Maintaining that the project ran into crores of rupees of public money and the quality of the project was not compromised, IAC said that the tenders should have reached as many potential bidders as possible. “This would allow the best bidder to be awarded the tender in a transparent manner. In the instant case however, it is apparent that the tender was kept under wraps for the most part, and there was only a farce of an advertisement of the Tender Notice,” IAC press release read.

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