Allegations of Rs.1250 crore 'tree plantation' scam under Fadnavis government
The joint committee of the state legislature, announced in the State Budget session, has alleged a scam worth around Rs.1,250 crore.
The ambitious tree plantation campaign of the former Fadnavis government in Maharashtra has come under the radar of the joint committee inquiring into plantation drive. The committee has found that the actual expenditure was hidden in the 33 crore trees plantation campaign conducted by former Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar. The joint committee of the state legislature, announced in the State Budget session, has alleged a scam worth around Rs.1,250 crore.
What is the whole issue?
From 2017 to 2019, the forest department carried out a campaign to plant 50 crore trees through government agencies, educational institutions, industry groups and private individuals. Under the plantation scheme, 33 crore trees were planted in the state. Out of these, 28.27 crore trees were planted during the years 2016-2017 and 2019-20.
At the end of October 2020, 21 crore trees are still alive and being maintained. Rs. 2,429.78 crores were received between 2016-17 and 2019-20 for the implementation of this campaign. Minister Dattatray Bharane had demanded an inquiry into why 25 percent of the plants did not survive after the plantation drive. In regard to this demand, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had announced an investigation into the campaign by a joint committee of the legislature.
While the legislature has shown expenditure of Rs. 2,438 crores, the committee says that actual expenditure has been of Rs. 3,688 crores. Also, Rs. 250 crores have been spent on advertising for this campaign while the tender for the same is not on record at the Directorate General of Information and Public Relations. The Legislative Committee is scheduled to meet today to discuss these irregularities before a committee of 15 MLAs.
These allegations come at a time when the ruling Mahavikas Aghadi, which constitutes the Shivsena, Nationalist Congress Party, Indian National Congress, is under severe attack from the opposition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party with allegations of corruption and a murder scandal of one Mansukh Hiran. The opposition has been actively protesting and attacking the state government demanding the resignation of Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.