State Industry Minister Subash Desai on Wednesday said the land which senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse had “purchased” from the “original owner” in Bhosari belonged to the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC).
On Tuesday, the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) reportedly submitted a report in the court stating that it has not found any concrete evidence against him. In his complaint to the police on May 30, 2016, Pune-based builder Hemant Gawande had alleged that Khadse misused his power as a minister and purchased land in Bhosari area, owned by MIDC, in the name of his wife and son-in-law at Rs 3.75 crore, as against the market price of Rs 40 crore.
In the wake of the complaint, Desai had said that the three-acre plot of land in Bhosari was purchased by MIDC from the original owner in 1971 and alloted to a clutch of companies. On Wednesday, Desai maintained the same position. Without naming the former minister, he said he would not comment about what he (Khadse) did, but would speak about the process involved. “MIDC land is never sold… it is leased out and alloted for a certain period. In this case, it has been alloted on lease to some industrial units,” he said.
According to records reviewed by The Indian Express, Khadse’s wife Mandakini and son-in-law Girish Chaudhari had purchased the land from Abbas Ukani on April 27, 2016, for Rs 3.75 crore. The market value of the plot was estimated to be much more. Pune-based builder Gawande said, “If the ACB has given a clean chit to Khadse, it means the sale deed executed by Khadse is legal. In that case, the land belongs to Khadse. But Desai says the land belongs to MIDC. Who is the real owner? The state government should come clean about this…”
Gawande said 13 industrial units had been set up on the three-acre land. “What will happen to these industrial units…,” he asked. He said even if the BJP leader did “purchase” the land, he had betrayed the trust of the people. “His motive is suspect. He knew that under the new Act, he would receive a huge compensation. As a minister, he was not supposed to misuse the confidential information,” said Gawande.
The builder said he would have to take the matter to the Bombay High Court. “When I had first filed the complaint with Bundgarden police, they had said no case could be filed on the matter. I had then approached the High Court, which had asked the ACB to probe the matter. Though the High Court had not asked the ACB to report to it, I will now approach the High Court,” he said.
Khadse had argued that MIDC acquired the piece of land in 1968, but failed to finalise the award as it did not compensate the original owner. Khadse had said that if the award is not finalised within the stipulated period of 40 years from the date of land acquisition, the process of acquisition automatically lapses. Khadse pointed out that in the case of the land in Bhosari, over 40 years had passed, so the MIDC did not have any claim over the land.