Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, on Tuesday refuted in the State Assembly the Opposition charge that there was Rs.50,000 crore scam in slum rehabilitation projects and rejected the demand for an enquiry into the allegations.
Pointing to a builder-politician nexus, Eknath Khadse, Leader of Opposition, alleged on Monday, that a certain developer by the name of Vimal Shah, managing director of Akruti Group of Companies had grossly violated development control (DC) rules. Despite this, the State gave him a go ahead for slum development projects. Mr. Khadse also listed other projects involving plots of land owned by agencies like the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd. (CIDCO) and Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA). He stated there was rampant corruption and widespread flouting of norms, resulting in the plunder of Mumbai by developers.
In his reply pertaining to the Akruti builders, Mr. Chavan said, the government charged developers a 25 per cent premium on land allotted for development schemes. He denied the Opposition's claim that the land allotted to the Akruti had mangrove swamps.
In another project, the Akruti was given less land than stipulated, the Chief Minister said. He, however, sought to turn the tables, by pointing to the advertisements by builders in Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna, wishing party executive president Uddhav Thackeray on his birthday. One of these advertisements was from the Akruti he said.
“If the Opposition was so concerned about the issue, we would have expected a principled stand from them by refusing these ads,” Mr. Chavan said. He noted that the Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party regime had given approvals for 10 of the Akruti's development projects.
Mr.. Chavan said a war among builders had turned into “a political war. He proposed a biennial third-party audit of land and encroachments.