State housing minister Prakash Mehta and CM Devendra Fadnavis
State housing minister Prakash Mehta and CM Devendra Fadnavis

All decks have been cleared for conducting a probe into corruption charges against state housing minister Prakash Mehta, as Governor CH Vidyasagar Rao on Wednesday asked the Lokayukta to begin investigations. Last month, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had requested the Governor to issue a direction to the Lokayukta to probe the matter.

Can summon CM, too
With the Governor’s approval, Lokayukta justice ML Tahaliyani has been empowered to summon not only Mehta, but also Fadnavis, if need be. The Lokayukta has been asked to probe into the permissions granted by Mehta in a slum rehabilitation scheme at MP Mill Compound in Tardeo. (See box: Prime accusation).

Another serious charge Mehta faces is that of approving the file without keeping Fadnavis in the loop and misguiding his political boss by making a note on the proposal saying that he had briefed the CM about it. Fadnavis had denied this when he was confronted about it in the legislature.

Another probe
In a letter to the Governor, Fadnavis had stated he made a statement before both the Houses of State Legislature saying an inquiry would be entrusted to the Lokayukta. Rao has ordered investigation under sub section (3) of section 17 of the Maharashtra Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta Act, 1971, said a communication from the governor’s office.

A committee of retired bureaucrats will also be probing Shiv Sena’s Subhash Desai, the state minister for industries and mining. He faces allegations of de-notifying land meant for industrial estates for the benefit of private builders.

Prime accusation
Prakash Mehta is accused of illegally transferring FSI from a SRA scheme to a project-affected people (PAP) scheme without keeping CM Fadnavis in the loop. The Opposition had alleged that the FSI transfer would gain a private builder at least Rs 500 crore. The CM had stalled the proposal when it was brought to his notice.