Maharashtra housing minister Prakash Mehta in trouble?
The Opposition has upped their ante calling for Mehta’s resignation. It is also likely to corner the government over the issue in the monsoon session of state legislature that starts on July 24.mumbai Updated: Jul 18, 2017 00:19 IST
Recent controversies over slum rehabilitation projects, including a decision to tweak rules that could benefit a builder, may put housing minister Prakash Mehta in trouble.
The Opposition has upped their ante calling for Mehta’s resignation. It is also likely to corner the government over the issue in the monsoon session of state legislature that starts on July 24.
CM Devendra Fadnavis has still not reacted publicly. However, he called Mehta and sought his explanation over the recent controversy.
Fadnavis also cancelled the decision in which Mehta allegedly tweaked the rules of slum rehabilitation project that benefitted a builder.
Sandip Yeole,an activist, has blown the lid of massive irregularities in slum rehabilitation projects in Mumbai. In a dramatic say, he presented before the media Rs40 lakh sent by a builder to bribe him to keep quiet about irregularities in a project in Vikhroli. Among others, Yeole has accused Mehta of being hand in glove with builders.
In another instance, Mehta on June 21, despite objections from his own department, issued orders to the SRA tweaking the original order of permitting the builder to utilise the Floor space index (FSI) originally sanctioned for the expansion of existing rehabilitation tenements of the slum dwellers to build tenements for project affected people (PAP). This would mean the builder will get a sale component of 71,822 square feet, which it would have had to otherwise forgo.
According to government insiders, Fadnavis is upset with Mehta and is of the opinion that defending the latter would be difficult.
Mehta has maintained silence over the controversies.
Mehta has mostly been in the news for wrong reasons. First, he tried to cut his minister of state for housing Ravindra Waikar to size by ordering all files Waikar clears need to get through him. Waikar took up this issue with Fadnavis .
Last year, Mehta announced the government was amending the Rent Control Act, the decision which caused fear among lakhs of tenants. This sensitive subject created a storm, where apart from the Opposition and ally Shiv, Sena even BJP legislators opposed the move. Mehta took a U-turn saying there was no such proposal at all.
In August last year, Mehta faced flak for clicking a selfie of the collapsed bridge in Raigad, instead of concentrating on rescue operations. He also misbehaved with journalists who questioned him on the matter and abused a television reporter.
Last year Fadnavis did cut him to size by divesting Mehta of labour department.
Significantly, Mehta, who has been elected for the sixth time and has headed Mumbai BJP, enjoys goodwill in city’s Gujarati community.