Another minister in the Democratic Front government courted controversy in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
The Opposition accused water conservation minister Nitin Raut (Congress) of playing a questionable role in the redevelopment of Ghatkopar’s Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar. The scheme in question is aimed at creating affordable housing for the city’s police force on the 1.24 lakh sqm land owned by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada).
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who was absent when the calling attention notice came up for discussion, is expected to give a reply in the coming days because the Opposition was not satisfied with the answers given by the minister of state for housing Sachin Ahir.
Raut is accused of illegally appointing his personal assistant (PA) PB Jakikore as one of the chief administrators of the Shantisagar Police Cooperative Society when he was minister of state for home.
The society was authorised to carry out redevelopment of the colony to create 1,172 flats, 45% of which were to be given to Mhada for free and 55% were for the police staff. Mhada will allot these flats to slum dwellers and residents of Mhada transit camps in the area.
Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Prakash Mehta alleged that the society planned to sell the Transfer of Development Right (TDR) to some other party for Rs250 crore. Opposition leader Eknath Khadse alleged Raut planted his PA to benefit from the deal.
Nationalist Congress Party legislator Nawab Malik too joined the Opposition and accused the government of hiding the truth.
Khadse produced documents, which showed that Jakikore’s appointment was made without seeking his parent department’s (general administration) approval. He also produced a compact disk containing the recording of a conversation in which Jakikore has made several references to Raut.
Ahir dismissed the allegations, saying no such deal has happened since 2001. He said the project was stopped after complaints and a decision on the matter is pending before Chavan. He said 10 buildings have been constructed so far and more than 500 police staff have been accommodated.
Raut did not counter the allegation as Chavan is expected to make a statement on the issue.