Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Eknath Khadse hit back at Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Monday, saying Pawar’s allegations against him were a ‘cover firing’ strategy in the face of the Maratha leader’s role in the Lavasa hill city project.
Pawar had on Saturday said Khadse, in his speeches in the Assembly, had not taken up a single worthwhile issue affecting the state and only issues of builders were raised.
Pawar had hinted at back door negotiations by the Opposition.
“Pawar is worried about his role in the Lavasa project that has been in the news for all the wrong reasons,” the Bharatiya Janata Party leader told journalists at the BJP state headquarters at Nariman Point.
“The Pawar family has been directly linked with Lavasa and we have spoken of the irregularities in this project. The BJP and I will expose the underhand dealings in Lavasa.’’
Khadse said he was considering moving a breach of privilege against Pawar.
Denying Pawar’s allegations, Khadse said he had raised several pertinent issues, ranging from farmers suicides to
the power crisis, in the Assembly.
“Pawar has accused us of settlement. What about various settlements made to clear the Lavasa project?’’ Khadse asked.
Hindustan Times had on August 20 reported that the Lavasa hill city, spread across 25,000 acres in the ecologically fragile Western Sahyadris, had come under the scanner of the Centre’s Environment Ministry following allegations that the project had violated environment norms.
Khadse said the state had gone out of its way to give the luxury hill city clearance.
He said stamp duty worth crores was waived, land in the catchment of a dam acquired by the government was given at a throwaway price to the project and forestland was acquired without clearances.
A Lavasa spokesperson said the company did not want to comment on these allegations.
The additional chief secretary of the Revenue department has recommended that the land acquisition be regularised by levying a penalty.
Khadse said the BJP would oppose this.
He said he had written to Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, listing the rules the project had flouted.
NCP spokespersons said they would respond to Khadse’s allegations by Tuesday.