Mumbai, Sept 13: In a major development in the probe of irrigation scam, the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) issued summons to former state Water Resources Minister Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare on Sunday.

Earlier, in June, ACB decided not to summon Pawar and send him a questionnaire instead with an allotted time to respond. However, due to non-cooperative attitude shown by the former deputy chief minister, the ACB has decided summon the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader. (ALSO READ: RTI activist alleges ACB’s special treatment to Ajit Pawar)

Both Pawar and Tatkare are alleged of adopting irregularities during their respective tenures while awarding contract for irrigation works. Exorbitant rates were paid to firms awarded the contracts. Whistleblower and former Tehelka journalist Ashish Khetan has accused Pawar of receiving kickbacks from various firms. Activist Vijay Pandhare later accessed documents which pointed that – between 1999 and 2009, Pawar, who headed the Ministry of Water Resources, had sanctioned amounts to the tune of Rs 70,000 crores. However, despite the huge expenditure incurred, the percentage of irrigation grew only by 0.1 per cent.

After the coalition of Bhartiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena came to power in October 2014, they initiated inquiries on 12 such irrigation projects.