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SRA scam: Congress demand sacking of key accused Prakash Mehta, to raise issue in Parliament

New Delhi: The Congress on Monday demanded that Maharashtra Housing Minister Prakash Mehta be sacked and a judicial probe be instituted for his alleged role in a mega land scam in Mumbai.

Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan accused Mehta of giving almost one lakh square feet of land in the MP Mills compound in Tardeo in Mumbai in violation of the rules to a builder, who allegedly benefited by Rs 500-800 crore.

He said the MP Mills SRA scam exposed the "tall claims" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi about not allowing corruption and also that of the BJP governments at the Centre and the state of providing corruption-free administrations.

Chavan said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had ordered an inquiry into this and had cancelled the minister's orders that "benefited" the builder, but not sacked Mehta.

File image of Prakash Mehta. PTI

File image of Prakash Mehta. PTI

"We demand that the chief minister drop Prakash Mehta from the cabinet till the inquiry is completed. We also demand that there be a judicial inquiry conducted by a judge of the High Court under the Commission of Enquiry Act," Chavan, a former chief minister of the state, told reporters in Delhi.

The controversy relates to a slum rehabilitation project at the compound in Tardeo, allegedly sanctioned by Mehta without the CM’s consent.

Chavan also demanded that 137 files cleared by the CEO of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), two weeks prior to his retirement, be reviewed and all current projects are investigated.

He said Fadnavis had ordered an inquiry after he "prima facie accepted the wrongdoing against the minister".

The Congress is all set to up the ante over the issue and to raise it in Parliament on Tuesday. Chavan said the party would bring the matter up in Parliament and demand action.

The Congress has also kept its options open on moving court, he said.

Chavan said Mehta "illegally" approved the transfer of slum dwellers' building rights to a major builder, SD Corporation, in the slum redevelopment project.

"While sanctioning the proposal the minister used the name of the chief minister and overruled specific objections raised by his secretary. The chief minister has denied his involvement," he said.

He said the matter raised "serious questions of probity and corruption and of flagrant and willful violation" of rules.

"It is the word of the chief minister against that of the housing minister. Who is speaking the truth? I am requesting the BJP headquarters and the prime minister, who won by promising to provide a corruption-free government. The time has come for him to put his foot down and find out who is lying," he said.

Chavan said contrary to the minister's assertion, the chief minister, speaking in the House on 31 July, denied previous knowledge about the proposal, despite the minister's noting.

"Due to the seriousness of the charges, the chief minister ordered an enquiry against Prakash Mehta, his senior cabinet colleague, (it) being only the second time in his tenure that an enquiry was ordered against a cabinet colleague," he said.

Chavan also asked, "Was a prior verbal sanction given by him? Can a minister brazenly use the chief minister's name in writing in an official file without actually consulting him? Is the chief minister protecting the minister due to special blessings of the BJP high command?"

The Congress in Maharashtra demanded that the prime minister make good his promise before the election — "Na Khaunga, Na Khane Doonga" (Will not be corrupt, and will not let others be corrupt) and said the party would continue to agitate till the demands were accepted.

He said earlier another inquiry was initiated against the then revenue minster Eknath Khadse, who was dropped from the Cabinet till the pendency of the enquiry by a judge.

Updated Date: Aug 07, 2017 22:01 PM

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