Despite his resignation, revenue minister Eknath Khadse continues to be bogged by allegations of scandal. Social activist Anjali Damania has levelled fresh allegations against him, saying he misused his discretionary powers to favour private parties in the case of the three plots measuring 929 acres.
This was done despite objections by his officials who rejected claims on the land by private parties. “It is a massive loss to the exchequer and an attempt to ensure financial gains for the private parties,” said Damania.
The first case referred to 635 acres of land in Aamgaon village in Wada Taluka, said to be purchased by a well-known stainless steel company. Since the owners were unable to produce the agriculture-related documents, the land was taken over by the government. The company appealed to four different appellate authorities but their claim was dismissed. “Despite this, Khadse sanctioned the land to them, flouting rules,” said Damania. The second case referred to 89 acres adjacent to the Aamby Valley doled to a private party to construct a hill station. The third case referred to 103 acres of land in Palghar which was again given to a private party.
Damania demanded a high-level inquiry into these dealings. “It is unfortunate that Khadse, who used to voice his opposition to such non-transparent dealings during his stint as an Opposition leader, resorted to the same practices when he gained power,” she added.
Khadse could not be reached for comment despite several attempts. The BJP defended him saying the allegations are baseless. “Those accusing Khadse have not provided proof till date. Since the state government has appointed a probe, they should submit the same to the inquiry commission instead of just levelling allegations,” said Keshav Upadhyay, BJP spokesperson.
Damania, a former Aam Aadmi Party leader, instrumental in exposing both the irrigation and the Maharashtra Sadan scam has now targeted Khadse, accusing him of large-scale irregularities in the Tapi Irrigation Project and for inflating land cost.