After SRA scam, Maharashta housing minister Prakash Mehta in fresh trouble | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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After SRA scam, Maharashta housing minister Prakash Mehta in fresh trouble

This time, he has been accused of intervening in the allotment of Mhada land to favour a real estate firm.

mumbai Updated: Aug 03, 2017 10:25 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Housing minister Prakash Mehta.
Housing minister Prakash Mehta.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)

Fresh on the heels of the Slum Rehabilitation Agency (SRA) scam, state housing minister Prakash Mehta courted fresh allegations of wrongdoing. This time, he has been accused of intervening in the allotment of Mhada land to favour a real estate firm. The Opposition renewed demands of Mehta’s resignation in the state legislature so that a fair probe could be conducted in this case.

The new allegations come two days after chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced an inquiry into an SRA project in Tardeo, where the minister is under scanner for misleading the department and Fadnavis to favour a developer. The CM had announced this probe in the state Assembly and council on Monday.

The new allegations against Mehta pertain to a 18,902 sqm plot at Pantnagar, Ghatkopar, owned by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada). In 1999, this plot was allotted to Nirmal Holding Private Limited (NHPL) to construct a transit camp by utilising the Floor Space Index (FSI) of 1.25 and using the remaining FSI of 1.25 for commercial exploitation.

After the NHPL failed hand over the 336 transit camp tenements, Mhada, in 2006, suggested the allotment be revoked. But Mehta as the then local legislator, had allegedly intervened in favour of the developer. Two years later, Mhada opined that if it developed this plot on its own, 1,448 tenements in transit camp would be built besides 205 flats.

The state government, in June 2012, finally cancelled the allotment of the plot to NHPL.

Read: SRA scam: Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis orders probe, housing minister under scanner

The Opposition has now alleged Mehta recently allotted the plot to the same builder using his ministerial powers, but it failed to back this allegation with any evidence.

“A huge irregularity has taken place in the decision and it should be probed after sacking the minister. The government had also transferred a senior officer, who refused to obey the orders of allotting the plot to the developer,” Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who raised the issue in legislative assembly.

Mehta rubbished the allegation. “The allotment has not been done. The allegations have no iota of substance and I will reply to the allegations on the floor of the house. I am ready to face any inquiry and not scared of any such attack,” he told HT.

These allegations later rocked both the houses of the state legislature on Wednesday with surprisingly the ruling party staging a walk out in the legislative council, claiming the ministers and ruling party members were not given a chance to speak. This is the first time ruling party members staged a walkout even as the Opposition called for Mehta’s resignation.

Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and Nationalist Congress Party group leader Jayant Patil also demanded a thorough inquiry into the matter in the Assembly.

“The nexus between bureaucrat, political and builders need to be exposed by conducting a thorough probe. Unless the minister is removed from the post, a fair probe cannot take place,” Chavan said.

The controversy turned political after a press statement issued in the name of Mehta went viral, saying some disgruntled leader from within his party had launched a veiled attack on him.

The statement also stated the leaders are eyeing his chair and hence launched a veiled attack on him.

Mehta, however, denied issuing an email statement. He later wrote a letter to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and the Mumbai police commissioner seeking an inquiry into the statement issued in his name.