Mumbai: The Congress created a ruckus in the Maharashtra Assembly today demanding removal of Housing Minister Prakash Mehta who is under the scanner in connection with a slum redevelopment project.
However, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis turned down the demand for Mehta’s ouster.
Fadnavis recently ordered a probe against Mehta for allegedly allowing unauthorised transfer of extra building rights in the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) project in south Mumbai, originally granted to slum dwellers, to project affected people (PAPs), apparently to favour a developer.
While sanctioning the changes, Mehta had wrongly mentioned in the project file that he had kept the chief minister in the loop, which was denied by Fadnavis.
Raising the issue in the House, Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the housing minister had allotted a plot in suburban Ghatkopar to Nirmal Holdings this year which was taken back from the developer in the year 2016 by the state government.
“The same builder was given the same plot in 2006 also, but he did nothing to develop the plot for the next 10 years (upto 2016). The state government in 2016 took the plot back, but again the plot was given to the builder this year. This is highly unethical and unacceptable. A plot at such crucial location can not be handed over without the consent of the minister concerned,” he said.
Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said Mehta had issued a press statement in which he has blamed his Cabinet colleagues on the matter.
Meanwhile, Fadnavis said, “I have already said that I am ready to set up an inquiry into alleged transfer of (extra building) rights by Mehta. A decision cannot be taken immediately as scrutiny has to be done first”.
However, Opposition MLAs argued that Mehta should be removed as minister first as his presence in the House could influence the inquiry against him, and walked out of the House in protest.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters outside the Assembly, Mehta said, “I will answer every question (regarding the issue) in the Assembly only. I won’t make any comment outside the House. I have not issued any press statement about the allegations levelled against me”.
When asked about the re-allotment of the plot to the developer, the minister said he didn’t remember. “I will have to check the records,” he added.