State industries minister Subhash Desai has ordered the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) to pull up its socks following media reports of two allegedly fraudulent attempts by relatives of high-profile government officials to buy land that it has already acquired. Admitting there are loopholes in MIDC’s administrative procedures, Desai said he has ordered the corporation to quickly rectify lapses in the documentation of its properties.
Desai said the recent cases of suspected fraud, involving the wife and son-in-law of former BJP minister Eknath Khadse and the son of senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Dhananjay Kamlakar, were due to procedural loopholes. Alleged irregularities in the purchase of three acres of MIDC land in Bhosari by Khadse’s wife Mandakini and son-in-law Girish Chaudhry, and that of a 7.64-hectare plot in Ranjangaon by Kamalakar’s son and others, have exposed the large-scale misuse of MIDC’s records. MIDC officials alleged that in both cases, “unfair advantage was taken by private parties while selling the land MIDC had already acquired”.
“For instance, once MIDC acquires a private plot, it must make sure that the 7/12 extract, the official document to record ownership, reflects the MIDC’s ownership. Currently, this isn’t happening as swiftly as it should be,” Desai said.
Officials in the industries department confirmed that a lack of coordination between MIDC and revenue department officials means that property records are often not updated even after the MIDC acquires a property, which gives land-grabbers a window of opportunity. Desai said, “These people trying to grab our land are smart people and know of such loopholes. Hence, MIDC needs to start being more alert and review the paperwork for all acquired lands to check if they have been updated correctly.”
Desai had earlier ordered a probe into the deal involving Kamlakar’s son in MIDC Ranjangaon. On Friday, he reiterated that “prima facie, the transaction is completely illegal”. He added, “We had acquired it, paid compensation and even published the transaction in the gazette. How can anyone buy the land then?”
MIDC regional manager Ajinkya Deshmukh said, “We have asked our surveyors to check and update the records of plots in MIDC’s possession. We want to ensure that MIDC’s ownership is clearly indicated on 7/12 extracts to prevent them being used for illegal transactions.”
Another MIDC official told HT that process of paying compensation will be expedited in the next few days to prevent the MIDC’s land acquisitions from lapsing. According to a 1995 government resolution, if the owner of a plot is not compensated within two years, the acquisition is considered to have lapsed.
Once considered rich agricultural land, the area surrounding Pune has been earmarked for industrial use by the government. To set up industries there, MIDC acquired large tracts of land by paying compensation to their original owners.