The Opposition parties Tuesday continued with its demand for resignation of Housing Minister Prakash Mehta and Industries Minister Subhash Desai over alleged corruption in projects in their respective departments. While Mehta is accused of violating norms in at least three housing projects, Desai is facing charges of irregularities in certain land deals.
Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Radhak-rishna Vikhe-Patil said, “The state government should institute a special investigation team (SIT) to probe against Desai who denotified a large parcel of land to help developers.” He said Mehta and Desai could not be allowed to continue in the government. NCP leader Ajit Pawar said, “Desai’s decision to denotify thousands of acres of industrial land was a ploy to benefit developers. It was a scam worth Rs 50,000 crore.”
Vikhe-Patil added: “A large tract of land at Igatpuri was denotified to benefit a private developer. The decision was taken overruling opposition from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation.”
The opposition leaders questioned why did the state not use the land for the purpose it was acquired, or return it to farmers.
In his reply, Desai denied any corruption or violation of any norm. The Shiv Sena minister said, “The denotification of land was in accordance with the rules and consent of MIDC. All procedures were followed.”
Citing a previous example of such land denotification, he added, “The Congress-NCP ministers during 2010 and 2014 had taken similar decisions to denotify land, which was part of the policies.” Stating that he was ready to face any probe, Desai said, “I know I have not done any wrong.”
The corruption charges against Desai and Mehta were also raised in the Legislative Council leading to adjournment of the House. Leader of the Opposition Dhananjay Munde said, “A 12,421-hectare land was denotified by Desai. This was to benefit prominent builders.”
He added that prominent developers had requested for denotification of land in Vadivhare and Gonde Dumala villages in Nashik. “It was done by violating the norms. This scam should be probed by an SIT, and Desai should be removed till completion of the inquiry,” said Munde, adding that the party would continue to stall proceedings of the House until Desai and Mehta were removed.