If Maharashtra chief minister tells me to relinquish post, I am okay with it: Prakash Mehta
Senior BJP leader and state housing minister Prakash Mehta, who is facing a series of allegations of corruption, says he is ready to leave the housing department if CM Devendra Fadnavis asks him tomumbai Updated: Aug 05, 2017 00:51 IST
Senior BJP leader and state housing minister Prakash Mehta, who is facing a series of allegations of corruption, says he is ready to leave the housing department if CM Devendra Fadnavis asks him to. Mehta, who is accused of favouring builders in two slum rehabilitation projects, says the allegations are a conspiracy by those who were hurt by his decision to ‘cleanse the slum rehabilitation department’.
What do you have to say about the allegations against you?
I can guarantee that no decision taken by me as a housing minister was illegal or violates any rules and regulations. I do feel that some people whose interests were hurt after I started cleansing the slum rehabilitation department are behind these allegations. The developers who were not executing pending SRA projects since long were removed and the people were asked to appoint new ones. People were made responsible
So you meant to say there is a conspiracy against you?
I am sure it is a political conspiracy. Moreover, it looks like a fight between 2 senior Congress leaders — Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil (leader of opposition) and Prithviraj Chavan (former CM) who are haggling over leadership of Congress in the assembly. So they are trying to show they can attack the government.
Didn’t you indicate that someone from your party was behind these allegations?
Not at all. We in the BJP don’t follow such practice. In the past 40 years of my political life, we have been working together as a family. There is no chance of involvement of any BJP leader (in these allegations against me).
With serious allegations of corruption against you, are you going to resign?
Fadnavis is closely monitoring the matter. He is competent enough to take a decision. If he tells me to leave the housing department until the probe is completed, I am okay. Other than the BJP, no one has a right to decide my future. The Opposition has reached a new low in making baseless allegations.
Why have you decided to convert the cancelled project at Pant Nagar, Ghatkopar into one under the SRA scheme?
In 1999, the then housing minister Suresh Jain had allotted the project to Nirmal Properties and Holding Company Private Limited for redeveloping a MHADA transit camp along with some slum pockets under Gharkul housing scheme, which couldn’t be executed. We only decided to expand its scope by clubbing 10-12 slum pockets on the adjoining plots. This was done to make the project feasible. Neither us nor the slum-dwellers have appointed any developer for the project. The government doesn’t have such rights to appoint a developer as it is a slum rehabilitation scheme. In this case, the allegations are wrong. If the slum-dwellers agree, Mhada will be asked to execute the project.
How come a government resolution was issued the same day you held a meeting to club the redevelopment with the slum project?
The case was pending for 17 years. I took a public meeting and not of the slum-dwellers. Further, the civic body elections were also impending. My intention was not wrong.
What do you want to say about MP Mill compound case?
The CM has already cancelled the order allowing the developer to utilise the floor space index (FSI) meant for expansion of existing rehabilitation tenements of the slum-dwellers ,to build tenements for project-affected people. I further believe that awarding additional FSI to a structure when it was already constructed was wrong. The then CM Ashok Chavan had taken the decision. Whatever wrong happened in the Tardeo SRA project was done during 2009-10. We have decided to probe that. No benefit was given to the developer by us.