MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has kept on hold two earlier orders regarding a land in Bhosari, allegedly to keep the former revenue minister and senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse out of the state Cabinet.Khadse had resigned in June 2016 after he was accused of using his post as revenue minister to facilitate a land deal in favour of his wife Mandatai Khadse and son-in-law Girish Chawdhary.The industries department had claimed ownership of the three-acre plot in Bhosari near Pune, and termed Khadse’s purchase illegal. It claimed to have procured the plot from one Ukani family for the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC). Now, under the new Land Acquisition Act, the department will have to pay the Ukani family a compensation of nearly Rs 100 crore. Khadse had purchased the land for Rs 3.75 crore, while its market value stood at Rs 23 crore.
A one-man commission comprising retired justice Dinkar Zoting was appointed to probe the allegations against Khadse. Though the commission submitted its report earlier this year, it was not tabled in the state legislature in the recently concluded monsoon session. The state government also appears to have kept on hold its earlier decisions on the Bhosari land. In two orders issued on May 18, 1995 and January 23, 1996 respectively, the state government had cancelled its notices issued in 1967 and 1971 respectively for acquisition of the land for the MIDC. The 1995 and 1996 orders stated that since the MIDC is not in physical possession of the land under consideration even after a huge time lapse, it should be returned to the original owner.
Khadse had sought information on implementation of the orders, as that would have proved him innocent. However, an official reply sent to him on August 6, 2017, stated that the orders appeared redundant and hence, were set aside in light of the Central government ordinance of January 2014, giving people the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition.Loyalists of the former minister feel that had the Zoting commission report been tabled in the assembly, Khadse would have returned to the state Cabinet. They questioned the duality in government’s approach towards Khadse and two other ministers who were accused of similar charges.
Housing Minister Prakash Mehta is facing charges for granting a one lakh square feet land in MP Mills compound in Tardeo, Mumbai, in violation of rules to a builder who allegedly benefitted Rs 500-800 crore. Similarly, Industries minister Subhash Desai has been accused of de-notifying a land acquired by his department for developing industrial areas. While both these ministers offered to resign, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asked them to continue in the Cabinet.Khadse loyalists, pointing out that though more than half a dozen ministers in the state Cabinet have faced allegations of irregularity or graft in the past one year, Fadnavis shielded them all.However, Khadse’s reinstatement in the Cabinet doesn’t seem to be a cake walk. He has a couple of court cases pending against him. His bank transactions are under anti-corruption bureau’s scanner after some activists complained.
Why was he ousted?
Khadse had resigned in June 2016 after he was accused of using his post as revenue minister to facilitate a land deal in favour of his wife Mandatai Khadse and son-in-law.