While both Houses of the state Legislature witnessed pandemonium Friday over the Opposition demand for Housing Minister Prakash Mehta’s resignation, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) also levelled allegations of corruption against industries minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai.
Moving an adjournment motion in the Legislative Council, Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde alleged that Desai had returned 400 acres of land acquired by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) to the original land owners, illegally and in violation of norms. While several agreements were signed at the Magnetic Maharashtra event in 2006, industries had been unable to get the land required to start operations, Munde alleged.
“The industries minister had ordered exclusion of 60 per cent of the notified land of MIDC. In Gonde Dumala in Nashik, 400 acres acquired by the MIDC were returned to the original land owners illegally and by flouting norms. The land was denotified and returned to favour developers. This should be probed thoroughly,” said Munde. He further said all evidence related to the matter would be placed in the Council next week.
Desai called the allegations baseless. “Of the 257 hectares of land, 182 hectares were excluded in 2014 by the previous Congress-NCP government. So, only a small portion was left. This had not been acquired, but only notified by the MIDC. Also, the land owners were demanding a high price. So, the MIDC decided that acquiring it was not beneficial, and the land should be denotified and returned. It was not a selective decision — it was taken for all, including small farmers,” Desai told The Indian Express.
On Friday, Opposition parties forced the adjournment of the Upper House nine times, demanding Mehta’s resignation. Later, Mehta told mediapersons that he was ready to step down pending inquiry if Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asked him to do so.