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Maharashtra CM removes IAS officer accused of corruption after uproar in assembly

The assembly was disrupted after the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party led Opposition demanded the resignation of Mopalwar and housing minister Prakash Mehta over graft allegations.

mumbai Updated: Aug 04, 2017 10:52 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,Devendra Fadnavis,Maharashtra CM

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced the removal of IAS officer Radheshyam Mopalwar from the post of vice-president and managing director of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) in the state assembly on Thursday. The Opposition had demanded his resignation after audio tapes that allegedly had him talking about bribes went viral. Minutes after the announcement, Mopalwar sent a mail to chief secretary Sumit Mullick informing him that he was going on leave from Thursday.

After the assembly witnessed several adjournments after an uproar over the irregularities by housing minister Prakash Mehta and Mopalwar, the Opposition fired fresh salvo at Mopalwar by citing letters to various state agencies from central ones, directing them to investigate the allegations on the IAS officer’s disproportionate assets. Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil questioned why the officer was being shielded and why the government was sitting on the central agency orders. Nationalist Congress Party group leader Jayant Patil said that though the government had announced an inquiry against the officer, a fair probe would not be possible unless he was removed from the post.

Fadnavis then announced that the officer will be removed from his post with immediate effect until the probe was completed. He had announced on Wednesday that the probe would be completed in a month and action would be taken if Mopalwar was found guilty.

The CM, however, said that the land deals that Mopalwar allegedly cracked were during the regime of the Congress-led government. “None of the cases in question are related to the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi corridor. They date back to the Congress rule when Mopalwar was posted on all plum posts. I am ready to prove that the cases had taken place during your stint,” Fadnavis told the opposition.

Mopalwar told HT, “ I have gone on leave in compliance with the announcement. I have not received any orders or instructions from anybody.”

Mukesh Khullar, principal secretary, general administration department, said, “ Mopalwar is on leave. We will make alternative arrangements by handing over additional charge to an IAS officer soon.”

The Opposition had on Wednesday raised the issue after an audio tape that allegedly had Mopalwar asking for a bribe went viral. It also alleged that the person who unearthed the transcript was getting life threats. The Opposition also produced CDs of the transcripts of the alleged conversation between Mopalwar and the middlemen involved in the land deals.

On Thursday, the Opposition alleged that the state government was aware of the complaints about disproportionate assets amassed by the officer. “In January, based on the complaint by BJP MLA Anil Gote, the home department headed by the CM had asked the director-general of police to inquire into the alleged cases of corruption and disproportionate assets. Seven months on, there is no inquiry. Last December, the PMO had directed the state government to take action against the online complaint it received. In February, the income tax department’s vigilance department directed the department’s investigation wing to probe the allegations. In the same month, CBI ordered the director-general of the Anti-corruption Bureau to investigate into the complaint by Gote to the CBI. Chief secretary of the state was also directed by department of personnel and training to look into the complaints. No enquiry has been conducted in any of the complaints,” Vikhe Patil said.

Officials in the CMO, however, said that the cases were just referred to the state government and action would be taken in due course.

First Published: Aug 03, 2017 13:40 IST