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Ruckus in state legislature over sting on official

The Congress-NCP opposition in both the Houses of the Maharashtra Legislature today demanded the removal of state State Road Development Corporation’s vice chairman and managing director Radheshyam Mopalwar over some audio clips in which he was purportedly heard fixing a deal for a plot.

The opposition members in the Legislative Assembly also shouted slogans demanding removal of housing minister Prakash Mehta over the transfer of development rights to a project in the city without consulting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Fadnavis assured both the Houses that an inquiry would be conducted in the alleged wrongdoings by the official and, if found guilty, action would be taken against him.

Moving an adjournment motion in the Legislative Council, Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde read out the transcripts of the purported conversation of Mopalwar with a businessman, allegedly pertaining to a deal for a plot in suburban Borivali.

“There have been a total of 550 calls by Mopalwar to fix the deal. When these call recordings are sent to a forensic laboratory, it will be clear that the person is indeed Mopalwar. These calls have been recorded, transcribed and translated by a company approved by the Maharashtra government,” Munde said.

He said in the past as well there were allegations against the officials and he should not be made in-charge of a the Mumbai-Nagpur expressway, Chief Minister’s pet project.

The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) is the implementing agency for the Nagpur-Mumbai ‘Samruddhi Corridor’ road project.

Munde said the official has also investments in reality companies demanded that he be suspended immediately and an inquiry ordered against him.

Sharad Ranpise (Congress) said there have been several allegations of corruption against the government in the last three years but nobody has ever been found guilty.

“While there is corruption happening, money is being sent to Mantralaya for transfer of officials as well. Whom is this money going to?” he asked.

Responding to the opposition charge, Fadnavis said all important posts to Mopalwar were given during the previous Congress-NCP government.

“I have heard the audio clip that was aired by a news channel and I am verifying it. Even the news channel has given a disclaimer that the clip is unverified. However, we will conduct an inquiry over the clips within a month. If he is found guilty, strict action will be taken against him,” Fadnavis said.

Munde then demanded that if Mopalwar cannot be suspended, he should at least be transferred from the Samruddhi corridor project or else the chief minister will lose peoples’ faith.

To this, Fadnavis said that Mopalwar’s current position has no relation with the audio clips that have surfaced. However, if the government finds him that he is in a position to influence the inquiry, he will be transferred.

In the Assembly, Fadnavis assured the members that the probe will be completed in a month.

However, the opposition did not accept the response and accused the government of protecting the IAS officer.

Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan (of Congress) demanded that Mopalwar be removed from his post since, if he is involved in corrupt practices, he may use his clout to influence the inquriy.

“The way the Fadnavis government is going soft in Mopalwar case, it dents the image of the BJP-led government.

The image of the government is in question. He (Mopalwar) should not be kept on any important post till the inquiry is over,” Chavan said.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, also demanded the removal of state urban development minister Prakash Mehta.

“If Mehta is not clean, then he should be removed immediately,” he said.

“Last year, the BJP government had asked the then revenue and agriculture minister Eknath Khadse to step down after allegations were levelled against him. The same yard- stick should be applied to Mehta as well,” Vikhe Patil said.

Fadnavis had two days back ordered an inquiry into the transfer of development rights to a project in the city, after the opposition targeted housing minister Prakash Mehta over the issue.

The opposition had alleged that Mehta overruled the housing department’s view that the Development Control Rules did not support his decision to allow transfer of extra building (development) rights sanctioned to slum dwellers to another residential scheme.

The chief minister had then told the Assembly, “Mehta has admitted that he had not consulted me before writing that note on the project. (But) One must not forget that no further decision was taken on the issue. Such things happen but it should not be blown out of proportion. I have already ordered a stay to the project after I learnt about the irregularities.

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