Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis stands by his four ministers
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday gave a clean chit to state industries minister Subhash Desai, accused of impropriety in a case involving a plot in Nashik. Fadnavis said the committee constituted to look into the allegations against Desai of graft.
Fadnavis also gave clean chits to state cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh, labour minister Sambhajirao Nilangekar Patil and tourism minister Jaykumar Rawal, while replying to a debate on corruption in the Assembly.
Desai, a Shiv Sena leader, has been accused of denotifying 16,909 hectares belonging to the MIDC in Nashik’s Igatpuri to allegedly favour a private development. Sources said Desai also ignored the opinion of the industries department against denotifying the Nashik plot. Following uproar from the Opposition, the state formed a committee headed by retired IAS officer KP Bakshi to look into the allegations.
The CM had later expanded the scope of probe, asking the committee to even look into denotification of lands acquired by MIDC during the Congress-NCP government. The committee, which was formed in August last year, submitted its report to the chief minister on March 21.
While the CM gave a clean chit, the report has found that in the past 15 years (between 2002 and 2017), there were 160 cases in which plots acquired for industrial use were denotified for various reasons. It is learnt that of the total 160 cases of denotification, former revenue minister Narayan Rane has denotified a maximum, around 50-55 plots, during his stint as the industries minister from 2009 to 2014. Desai has denotified second highest number of plots (around 40-45) during his four-year stint.
The committee found violation of rule 30 of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) Rules, 1962 , which restrict the government from initiating the process of denotification of the land 10 years after notifying, in most cases. It means the government cannot denotify the plot after completion of 10 years.
The committee has recommended the decision on use of the plot be taken within 15 years from the date it was acquired, failing which the land be denotified and returned to the farmers. However, the government can issue another notification to extend the time frame for 15 years, sources revealed.
The cooperation minister was accused of constructing bungalow on a plot reserved for fire brigade, labour minister has been named by CBI as an accused in a loan default case where he was a guarantor and tourism minister was accused of conflict of interest for being director in a firm involved in tourism business — Toranmal Hill Resorts Private Limited (THRPL).
The CM said the residence of the cooperation minister was regularised in 2006. However, the local body has not updated its land records which led to the controversy. Nilangekar-Patil had nothing to do with the loan amount which was already settled as per the healthier One-Time Settlement (OTS) scheme of Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The minister was just a guarantor in the case. There is no proof that Rawal is anyway related to the THRPL firm.