Mumbai: Tainted MSRDC chief removed from office

Aug 04, 2017, 14:51 IST | Dharmendra Jore

No action yet on housing minister Prakash Mehta, who continues to hold onto chair in the face of corruption charges

Ruckus over ex-MSRDC chief Radheshyam Mopalwar (above) and housing minister Prakash Mehta ensured a noisy of day of proceedings at Vidhan Bhavan during the ongoing monsoon session. File pics
Ruckus over ex-MSRDC chief Radheshyam Mopalwar (above) and housing minister Prakash Mehta ensured a noisy of day of proceedings at Vidhan Bhavan during the ongoing monsoon session. File pics

A day after managing director of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) Radheshyam Mopalwar was accused of brokering a government land deal in favour of certain parties, the officer has been divested of his charge till an inquiry against him is completed.

On Wednesday, the Opposition had presented before the legislature a series of audio clips of phone conversations allegedly between Mopalwar and one Satish Mangle, discussing a third party and how they should ensure that the latter secured the land deal. The Opposition demanded his immediate suspension, but Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis rejected the demand and took away the important charge the 59-year-old held; Mopalwar will retire early next year from the IAS.

Fadnavis said the alleged conversation hadn't taken place recently and had no connection with his dream project - the Mumbai-Nagpur super communication highway (Samriddhi Mahamarg) - for which land is being acquired. The audio clips will be sent for forensic analysis and the entire matter probed in a month, he added.

Both Houses stalled
Earlier in the day, ruling party members did not participate in the business of the Upper House for quite some time, alleging that the Opposition didn't allow them to present their views on the allegations against their government over issues related to Mehta and Mopalwar.

Citing media reports stating that the state didn't pay heed to the complaints against Mopalwar forwarded by the Centre, the Opposition demanded to know the reason for the laxity. Opposition alleged that the PMO, Income Tax Department and the CBI had communicated with the state regarding the complaints late last year, but they were ignored.

Mehta continues to face heat
Action against Mopalwar gave the Opposition a much-needed boost and parties once again put forth their demand for the sacking of housing minister Prakash Mehta in both Houses. Mehta is accused of illegally transferring FSI from a slum rehabilitation scheme to a project-affected people one without keeping Fadnavis in the loop. Fadnavis replied in the legislative council, "Don't politicise the issue. There is no fraud committed because I scrapped the proposal immediately. An inquiry will be held and those guilty will be punished."

Mehta faces another allegation - he is said to have allotted a government plot to a private developer from whom the same plot had been taken some years ago. Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, promised to expose the minister in one more case on Friday.

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