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Shiv Sena leader and Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam on Wednesday expressed serious reservation over opening up saltpan land for housing projects. He registered his protest at the weekly Cabinet meeting held at Mantralya by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Kadam was the lone Sena minister who voiced his concern on the issue. “Development on saltpan is detrimental to the environment. My aim is to safeguard the environment,” he said.
“The government is planning housing projects on saltpan land. They often say the houses would help the poor and low-income groups. But such reasons are just pretext to open up the saltpan land for construction and help the builders,” he alleged.
Kadam did not take the name of chief minister or any BJP minister while making his point. Instead, he chose to attack the bureaucrats in the urban development department. “In the past Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had led public demonstrations on the urban land ceiling Act. Every time bureaucrats talk of affordable houses to help the poor. But their plans are to help the builders,” he said.
A senior BJP minister, requesting anonymity, said, “The Shiv Sena’s objection to saltpan land is ridiculous. In the past their Cabinet ministers had given the consent for the development of saltpan land in the Cabinet. They have always supported housing projects on saltpan land.”
The BJP minister also wondered why the Sena did not register their views when the development plan for Mumbai was being drafted and discussed for last several years. There is not a single note of concern on saltpan land by any of the Sena ministers or party officials, he added.