Graft: Sena Minister Desai Offers to Quit, Fadnavis Declines Request

Claudine Rigal
Août 12, 2017

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered a Lokayukta probe into allegations of corruption against Housing Minister Prakash Mehta on Friday. "CM told me that there is no need of resignation", Desai said. Mehta has been facing heat over alleged "unauthorised" transfer of extra building rights of an the SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Authority) project at the MP Mills Compound in south Mumbai, originally granted to slum dwellers, to project- affected people. It was later handed over for maintenance to the state government by the Defence ministry, which had acquired it in 1946.

He said said all permissions for construction on this particular land were given between 1999-2004.

After Opposition parties continued demanding resignation of both ministers, Fadnavis said, "I will not ask them to go home just because of the Opposition's allegations".

The opposition has been raising the pitch for Mr Mehta's resignation and had repeatedly stalled the proceedings during the monsoon session of the state legislature over the issue. Mehta's wife and son were also accused of benefiting from a redevelopment project.

"The chief minister said let there be an independent inquiry and until the result is out for everyone to see, I should continue performing my duty", he said.

Fadnavis last night announced a Lokayukta probe into into the opposition allegation that there had been serious impropriety in clearing a slum-redevelopment project in the city by Housing MinisterPrakash Mehta, a BJP member in the cabinet.

Fadnavis, however, said of the total 16,909 hectares of land denotified, 9,335 hectares was done during the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government in Maharashtra.

"Similar criteria should be applied to these ministers as well", he said. The chief minister had said mere denotification of land does not mean corruption has taken place. There will be a fair and an independent report conducted. The CM however refused to accept the resignation.

Mr Fadnavis also announced the formation of a joint Special Investigation Team (SIT), consisting of a senior IAS officer and Economic Offence Wing (EOW) officers, to probe allegations against IAS officer Radheshyam Mopalwar as exposed by The Hindu last week.

Mr. Fadnavis said the Lokayukta would be given absolute power to investigate the ministers, and no compromise will be made in the probe.

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