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Saturday, April 04, 2020

Public servants, kin bought land at dirt cheap rates: Prithviraj Chavan

About 9,330 hectare land is being acquired for the Rs 50,000 crore project. While starting from Nagpur and ending at Mumbai, it is proposed to pass through eight other districts including Nashik and Thane.

| Mumbai | Published: February 26, 2020 2:23:34 am
Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan on CAA, Prithviraj Chavan on NRC, Prithviraj Chavan on BJP's Hindutva project, indian express news Congress leader and former CM Prithviraj Chavan. (Photo: Ganesh Shirsekar)

Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan Tuesday rekindled a controversy over the purchase of hundreds of acre of land allegedly by bureaucrats and politicians around the proposed Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Corridor.

Chavan said just before the alignment of the 700-kilometre-long corridor was notified, a coterie of public servants and their relatives had gone on a land buying spree, buying farm land at dirt cheap rates from farmers. Later, when the same land was acquired by the government for the corridor, they were give handsome land compensations, said Chavan.

Raising the issue during the Question Hour in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Chavan, on Tuesday, sought a high-level probe in the matter. The road project, commissioned during the previous regime, was a pet project of former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

About 9,330 hectare land is being acquired for the Rs 50,000 crore project. While starting from Nagpur and ending at Mumbai, it is proposed to pass through eight other districts — Buldhana, Amravati, Wardha, Washim, Thane, Aurangabad, Akola, Bhiwandi, and Nashik

This is not the first time allegations in this regard have been raised. In December, 2016, Fadnavis himself had requested the office of the Lokayukta to probe these allegations when they had first cropped up. At that time allegations were also raised against kin of a senior bureaucrat who was known to enjoy the confidence of then, Chief Minister.

On Tuesday, Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde, while replying to Chavan’s query, remained non-committal over commissioning a fresh probe. “In a report submitted to the state’s home department, the office of the Lokayukta had found no merit in the allegations,” Shinde said.

But Chavan alleged that Fadnavis had then ordered a probe only into land purchases entered into after the corridor was notified. But before Shinde could respond to the fresh query, Speaker Nana Patole ordered adjournment of the proceedings, citing the ongoing ruckus in the House. From the moment the assembly reconvened Tuesday, there was din in the House, with the Opposition benches raising slogans against the government over rise in crimes against women and the government’s farm loan waiver scheme.

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