Fadnavis sacks IAS officer under land deal cloud

Mumbai
3 Aug 2017

Facing the opposition heat, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today removed IAS officer Radheshyam Mopalwar as managing director of the state undertaking MSRDC over audio clips in which he was purportedly heard fixing a deal for a plot here. As the issue rocked the state Assembly with the opposition accusing the officer of corruption, Fadnavis announced in the House that Mopalwar was being removed as vice-chairman and managing director of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), pending an inquiry against him. He said though there was no evidence of graft against Mopalwar, he was being removed from the post till the inquiry was over. The Congress-NCP opposition demanded action against the bureaucrat after the audio clips, in which he is purportedly heard fixing a deal concerning a piece of land in suburban Borivali, surfaced. The clips remain unverified. "There is no direct evidence against Mopalwar, but going by the demand of the opposition, I am removing Mopalwar from his current post of MD of MSRDC, till the inquiry (against him is over). "I have already announced in the House that inquiry in this matter will be completed within a month," the chief minister said. Seeking to turn the table on the opposition, Fadnavis said the projects being discussed in the clips go back to the time when the Congress-NCP government was in power. There is no mention of the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway project which the IAS officer was overseeing as the MSRDC managing director, he said. The Rs 46,000-crore expressway, also called Samruddhi Mahamarg (prosperity corridor), being implemented by the MSRDC is considered a pet project of Fadnavis. The opposition also raised the issue of alleged violation of norms by Housing Minister Prakash Mehta in transfer of development rights in a project in the city. "If Eknath Khadse (former revenue minister from the BJP, who quit following graft charges last year) could be removed why not Prakash Mehta (Housing Minister) and Mopalwar?" NCP leader Ajit Pawar asked. Mehta has been accused of transferring development rights to a project in the city without consulting Fadnavis. Pawar said, "BJP MLA Anil Gote had written to several investigating agencies against Mopalwar."  Defending the government, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar asserted it will not protect anyone involved in corruption. "We will not protect any corrupt practice or person. Gote is a BJP MLA and he wants to fight against corruption. Hence, he wrote letters to various investigating agencies," he said. Jayant Patil (NCP) said, "We are not satisfied with the state government because there is no announcement about Mehta."  Earlier in the day, the assembly witnessed noisy scenes and was adjourned twice as the opposition pressed for the ouster of Mehta and Mopalwar. Leader of the Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil (Congress) demanded a statement from the chief minister on Mehta.(PTI)