PUNE: Among the series of allegations Eknath Khadse faced as a minister, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) land scam appeared to have triggered his resignation as documents point to a conflict of interest on the part of Khadse.
Besides the land scam, Khadse is accused of receiving calls from Dawood Ibrahim. He also faced flak after his aide Gajanan Patil was arrested for demanding a bribe.
It was the purchase of a 3-acre plot at Bhosari by Khadse’s wife and son-in-law that caught him in a conflict of interest and alleged misuse of his official position. Khadse’s wife Mandakini and son-in-law Girish Chaudhary bought a three-acre plot at Rs 3.75 crore from a private person even though the land belonged to MIDC.
The allegations levelled by activist Hemant Gawande indicated that Khadse as a revenue minister did this to get a higher compensation. The minister through his wife and son-in-law purchased property, which was admittedly acquired by MIDC, at a rate far lesser than the market value of Rs23 crore.
In a letter written to the joint CEO of MIDC on February 24, almost two months prior to the land deal, the Pune district administration sought the intervention of the industry body demanding to know how Abbas Ukani, the land’s Kolkata-based owner, was seeking compensation under the 2013 Land Acquisition Act. The letter referred that Ukani has already approached the Bombay high court against MIDC for higher compensation under the new Act saying he was not compensated when MIDC acquired his land. The Land Acquisition Act 2013 prescribes compensation three times the market price of the land.
A month after the district administration wrote a letter, Khadse held a meeting with officials of MIDC and revenue department to discuss the compensation to be given to Ukani.
“The wife and son-in-law of the revenue minister illegally bought the land for Rs3.75 crore for which they will get compensation worth Rs90 crore as per the present Land Acquisition Act,” said Gavande, who has filed a police complaint against the Khadses.
Khadse refuted the allegations saying MIDC didn’t pay any compensation to Ukani in 48 years, as a result of which the ownership of the plot remains with Ukani.
Khadse, while citing the 1995 GR, claimed that “land belongs to Ukani and the acquisition proceedings have lapsed since MIDC failed to complete compensation process within two years.” However his defence appeared lame as documents showed otherwise.
Documents accessed by HT indicate that MIDC had raised objections when one Yashwant Govind Walimbe wanted to purchase the plot in 2010. The MIDC that time clarified that since MIDC’s name was not recorded on 7/12 extract, “Unfair advantage is being taken by making attempts to conduct transactions over the plot in possession of MIDC”.
Later, the MIDC ensured its name is recorded in the column under “other rights”. The extract also has Ukani’s name as the owner of the plot.