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Radheshyam Mopalwar removed from MSRDC: Fadnavis must explain delay, inquiry unlikely to satisfy Opposition

Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) managing director and vice chairman Radheshyam Mopalwar has been removed from his post over allegations of corruption and an inquiry initiated, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis informed the Maharashtra State Assembly on Thursday.

The chief minister also said that the inquiry will be concluded within a month after careful consideration of the corruption charges against Mopalwar.

Fadnavis addressed the House on Thursday, two days after an audio clip of Mopalwar where he allegedly told a middleman about the functioning and dealings in the Mantralaya became viral on social media. Mopalwar is allegedly also heard discussing under-table cash transactions in the Mantralaya in the audio clip.

File image of Devendra Fadnavis and Radheshyam Mopalwar

File image of Devendra Fadnavis and Radheshyam Mopalwar

The interesting thing, however, is that the state government and Chief Secretary's office were seemingly aware of the corruption allegations against Mopalwar well in advance. The various central agencies including the Income Tax Department, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Central Vigilance Department and the Prime Minister's office (PMO) have been communicating the allegations against Mopalwar to the state government since December 2016. However, the state government and Chief Secretary's office ignored their request and reminders to conduct an inquiry against Mopalwar.

There are allegations of corruption and misappropriation of assets and properties worth hundreds of crores against Mopalwar.

An IAS officer of 1995 batch, Mopalwar, MD of MSRDC, is also in-charge of Fadnavis's dream project — the Mumbai Nagpur Samruddhi Expressway. Mopalwar, however, has termed all the allegation as "false" and that the truth will come out after the inquiry.

Firstpost is in possession of copies of the letters and documents that the central agencies wrote to Maharashtra government and the Chief Secretary office, where they alleged corruption against Mopalwar.

In December 2016, the PMO sent an online complaint against Mopalwar to the state General Administration Department (GAD). But the GAD (and the home ministry) — both headed by Fadnavis — took no action against Mopalwar.

Later, Deputy Director (Vigilance), Verghese Joseph, who sits at the Income Tax department’s headquarters in Delhi sent letter to the Director General (Investigations) of Income Tax Department on 3 February, 2017. Joseph raised the allegations of corruption raised by BJP MLA Anil Gote against Mopalwar in the letter.

Letter to Director General of Income Tax (Vigilance)

Income tax vigilance writes letter to IT investigation department

Two days later, on 15 February, 2017, CBI’s Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) sent the letter to the director of general at Maharashtra's ACB, seeking appropriate action against the suspected IAS officer in Maharashtra. On 20 February 2017, KC Raju, Under Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, sent a letter to the office of the Chief Secretary, Maharashtra, and asked them to examine the matter and send a detailed report to the department immediately.

Letter to CBI's Anti Corruption Bureau wing

Complaint to Additional Chief Secretary, Maharashtra

Undersecretary of Government of India

Jitendra Singh writes to chief secretary 

Firstpost has the copy of a correspondence that took place on 9 January, 2017, where Fadnavis had asked the director general of police, Maharashtra to take action against the officer. The chief minister also directed an urgent and appropriate inquiry to be made by the crime branch. But even after seven months no action has been taken against Mopalwar.

Home Department writes letter to Director General Of Police, Maharashtra

Gote, who has been continuously coordinating with the central government on benami properties of Mopalwar, told Firstpost that his fight against corruption will continue. "I will not keep quite till Mopalwar is behind the bar," he said. Letter to BJP MLA Anil Gote

However, when Firstpost contacted Mopalwar for his version of the story, the IAS officer claimed that the audio clip was doctored. "These forged and doctored audio clips are created through voice modulation, and made viral by individuals who've background of committing technical crimes like procuring call data records (CDRs) illegally," Mopalwar said.

Though Mopalwar refused to give any names, he seems to be aware of the person behind the audio clip. "This individual is on bail in such CDR crimes as well as in a case of attempted extortion through the underworld and a rape case. Since an inquiry to check the veracity of these clips has been announced on the floor of the House, the truth will come out soon," he added.

While former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has demanded a judicial enquiry against Mopalwar, former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar has demanded Mopalwar's immediate suspension.

"Why is the chief minister shielding such an officer? There are so many non-corrupt officials in the state who will complete Fadnavis' dream project, the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway," Pawar said, adding, "There are 36 such recorded data, in which Mopalwar is clearly doing the negotiations worth crores of rupees."

The Maharashtra Assembly and the State Legislative Council was adjourned thrice, and later adjourned for the day before 12 noon. Earlier, replying to Opposition's demands for Mopalwar's suspension, the chief minister assured the Lower House that the state government will conduct a detailed inquiry and audio testing of the clips.

"The enquiry will be completed within one month and till then Mopalwar is removed from the post of MD and vice chairman of MSRDC. There is no question of shielding anybody for any wrong thing, and if Mopalwar is found guilty then we will ask the central government to terminate his service," Fadnavis said on Thursday.

The interesting thing is Mopalwar is set to retire after seven months in February 2018.

Updated Date: Aug 04, 2017 13:23 PM

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