Maharashtra industries minister Subhash Desai has recently been in the eye of a storm involving denotification of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) land. The opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has termed the denotification a 'Rs 50,000 crore scam.' However, the state's chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has at the eleventh hour expanded the scope of the one-man committee probing the issue to include decisions taken by industries ministers from the Congress-NCP as well.
Thus, the panel, which was earlier examining charges only against him, is now examining his predecessor's actions as well. This could come as some relief to Desai.
After allegations regarding Subhash Desai's 'illegal' denotification of more than 3,000 acres of land surfaced, he offered his resignation to Fadnavis. However, the chief minister did not accept the resignation, instead ordering a one-member committee to probe the matter. The committee, which was formed in July 2017, comprises of former additional chief secretary (Home) KP Bakshi.
Sources confirmed that the scope of the committee has been changed from the original scope. Industries ministers since 2002 have have been asked to submit their explanations on decisions regarding denotifications in writing. These include Ashok Chavan, Rajendra Darda and Narayan Rane. During the investigation, it was revealed that the maximum amount of MIDC land was denotified during the tenure of Narayan Rane.
Speaking to Firstpost, KP Bakshi confirmed that the probe is in its final stages. The report will be submitted to the chief minister on 15 February.
However, the report is said to have desisted from indicting any individual person, and has stuck to factual details. After the report is submitted, the chief minister will take the final call on whether the policy on denotification of land is correct or not, a senior official from the industries department said on the condition of anonymity.
Responding to the allegations, Subhash Desai told Firstpost, "Whatever I want to say about the matter, I will place in front of the probe committee. I do not wish to discuss this issue with the media."
However, Desai also said that a large amount of land was denotified during the tenure of the Congress-NCP by then minister Rajendra Darda and Narayan Rane. He also said that under his tenure, land was denotified as per the rules to make way for development projects under Make in India.
Dhananjay Munde, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, said, "We asked for a specific probe against the current industry minister Subhash Desai. Why is the chief minister expanding the scope of the probe and changing the time frame? If he doing so, then why not include the Sena-BJP tenure from 1995?"
Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar said the denotification of about 3,000 acres of land has resulted in a loss of Rs 50,000 crore to the state government. "We demanded that industries minister Subhash Desai own up to the responsibility for this, and resign immediately. But there appears to be one rule for (senior BJP minister) Eknath Khadse and another rule for Subhash Desai."
The NCP's chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said to Firstpost, "Devendra Fadnavis is the first chief minister of Maharashtra who indulges in such petty politics. Desai is a Sena minister who is known to be close to Fadnavis. It appears that the chief minister intends to give a clean chit to him."
Dhananjay Munde has alleged that 3,000 acres of land, which was acquired by MIDC, was illegally returned to the original land owners. Munde has termed it a 'major scam' and has called for an independent inquiry.
Updated Date: Jan 19, 2018 22:47 PM