Prakash Mehta to quit?

ST Correspondent
Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Mumbai: BJP’s prominent face in Mumbai’s eastern suburbs and Maharashtra’s Housing Minister Prakash Mehta, who has been accused of issuing orders to the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) to tweak the original order permitting the developer to utilise the floor space index (FSI), finds himself in major political trouble. Mehta faced a lot of criticism from the opposition in the Assembly over the last two days after which Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was forced to order an inquiry into the matter.  

Mumbai: BJP’s prominent face in Mumbai’s eastern suburbs and Maharashtra’s Housing Minister Prakash Mehta, who has been accused of issuing orders to the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) to tweak the original order permitting the developer to utilise the floor space index (FSI), finds himself in major political trouble. Mehta faced a lot of criticism from the opposition in the Assembly over the last two days after which Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was forced to order an inquiry into the matter.  

Former chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan demanded that Mehta be sacked for allegedly tweaking rules on June 21 for a slum redevelopment project at Tardeo in the developer’s favour, where additional FSI was provided to the private developer in violation of rules.

Chavan also asked Fadnavis to initiate a probe into the matter

The orders issued by Mehta would allegedly result in  profit of Rs 500 to 800 crore to the developer. Mehta allegedly asked the SRA to give permission to the builder to use the additional FSI for another project meant for project-affected people (PAP) in the same area. This would have given the developer additional 71,822 square feet.

Fadnavis initiated a probe into the matter against Mehta.  But Chavan insisted that Mehta be sacked.

“Why is the CM shielding Mehta, there is discrimination between Khadse and Mehta. Mehta should go the way Khadse had gone,”

Chavan said.  “How could a SRA scheme meant for rehabilitation of slum dwellers be transferred to a private developer. The reason cited was that slum dwellers were not keen on housing, which is questionable,” Chavan said. 

“The State government should thoroughly investigate the matter and those responsible should be brought to book. Mehta should resign till the investigation is complete or Fadnavis should suspend him from the Cabinet till the enquiry ends,” Chavan added.  

“How come the housing minister, having no powers, can issue such an order to the SRA, an independent authority and also mention that the chief minister was informed about his decision?” He added, “The chief minister has already denied having any knowledge of the incident. He should take this seriously and initiate a probe into the matter. Mehta should resign until the probe is completed as his integrity is now in question,” Chavan said.

Fadnavis revoked the alleged changes approved by Mehta and asked Additional Chief Secretary (Housing) Sanjay Kumar to submit a report on the files cleared by Vishwas Patil, then SRA chief. After Mehta was cornered in the Assembly, he said there was nothing wrong in the matter. “I haven’t committed any mistake, but the CM initiated a probe and I  am ready to face it,” said Mehta

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