The Opposition on Wednesday attacked the Devendra Fadnavis government over the re-employment of controversial bureaucrat Radheshyam Mopalwar after retirement. On February 28, Mopalwar, a 1995-batch IAS officer, presently the chief executive of Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), attained the age of superannuation. But the same day, the government ordered his re-employment to the same post on contractual basis. “The move raises questions on this government’s functioning. How can a bureaucrat, who has faced serious accusation of corruption and impropriety, be re-employed in this manner?” said Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, seeking the Speaker’s permission to allow an adjournment motion over the issue. He demanded cancellation of the order.
While Speaker Haribhau Bagade declined permission, former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan also fired a barb at Fadnavis. “His (Mopalwar’s) re-employment creates an impression that the state administration can’t function without him,” he said. Mopalwar’s re-employment contract would be valid for a year beginning March 1. The Fadnavis government has justified the re-employment, claiming that his continuation was felt necessary to push the implementation of several road infrastructure projects including Fadnavis’s pet, the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Corridor project.
Earlier in December 2017, Mopalwar had resumed his position at the MSRDC, after getting a clean chit from the CM-appointed probe panel for allegations of corruption raised against him. On August 3 last year, Fadnavis had asked him to proceed on leave, while constituting the inquiry panel, which was asked to probe allegations of corruption against him.
Chavan, on Wednesday, demanded tabling of the probe panel’s report in the Legislature, while demanding an Anti-Corruption Bureau-led probe into allegations of disproportionate assets raised against Mopalwar. Senior government sources informed that one such probe is already ongoing with the state’s ACB and the Enforcement Directorate.
“Several MSRDC projects including the Samruddhi Corridor project, the Bandra-Versova sea link project, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway’s missing link projects, and the construction of a third bridge along the Sion-Panvel Highway were at a decisive phase. Considering the ardent need to take all these projects to a secure stage, the government has approved reappointment of Mopalwar on the MSRDC on contract basis,” states the PWD’s order. But many is the state’s bureaucracy are not convinced about the decision to reemploy him.
The government had invoked the clause in the MSRDC’s constitution that allows it to even hire a retired IAS officer as the company’s managing director and vice chairman.