SRA scam: Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis orders probe, housing minister under scanner
Fadnavis said Mehta did not inform him and sanctioned the changes while wrongly mentioning in the project file that he had kept the CM in the loopmumbai Updated: Aug 01, 2017 11:43 IST
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced an inquiry in the alleged irregularity in the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) project at MP Mills compound in Tardeo. In the project, housing minister Prakash Mehta had allowed transfer of extra building rights, originally granted to slum dwellers, to project affected people (PAPs).
After the opposition cornered the government over the irregularity, which could have allegedly resulted in the windfall of Rs500 crore-Rs800 crore to the builder and demanded Mehta’s resignation, Fadnavis ordered an inquiry.
Fadnavis said Mehta did not inform him and sanctioned the changes while wrongly mentioning in the project file that he had kept the CM in the loop. Adding that the minister did this unintentionally and he was announcing the probe to clear the air, Fadnavis said the modalities of the probe and terms of references would be decided by taking opposition leaders and groups leaders into confidence. “The note on the file about having informed me was an unintentional mistake by the minister. Though he directed the transfer of the building rights, there was no final decision taken and the builder has not benefitted as has been alleged,” said the CM.
The minister had allowed the transfer of building rights to PAPs, despite the housing department secretary saying that the case was not fit for Maharashtra Slum Rehabilitation Act’s section 3-K, which allows discretionary powers to the authorities. The secretary had added that the right of such transfer was not with the government but with the SRA.
While speaking in the legislative assembly, Mehta said his note about informing the CM was a result of a misunderstanding. He said he mistook other files discussed with the CM for this particular file. Mehta said, “ Use of the 44 sq ft of allowed additional area per flat was under consideration. Not a single inch of additional FSI allowed to the project is in question.”
However, Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan and NCP leader Jayant Patil cornered the government saying it was against the much touted doctrine of transparency by the government. “A judicial commission should be formed by the government to probe the allegations against the housing minister. Mehta lied about having informed the CM about the allotment of the building rights to the developer. The matter has posed question on the integrity of the housing minister as well as the CM and only a judicial probe could bring truth to the fore,” he said.
The MP Mills compound project, which was sanctioned in 1996, saw a residential tower and tenements for 2,334 slum dwellers. However, after the state tweaked its rules and allowed bigger homes of 269 sq ft instead of 225 sq ft in 2009, the builder sought to transfer the rights accrued out of the additional FSI elsewhere. Though the SRA rules do not allow such transfer, the minister moved the file.