CM Fadnavis stays land deal pending probe

The Asian Age.  | Umakant Deshpande

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Fadnavis clarified that 200 such land allotments, some done under the previous Congress-NCP regime, would be probed.

Devendra Fadnavis

Nagpur: Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis Friday stayed the controversial Navi Mumbai land deal related to the allotment of prime land to eight Koyana project-affected persons. CM Fadnavis ordered that the concerned land should not be transferred, leased or allowed to create third-party interests pending the completion of a judicial probe, ordered to look into the alleged irregularities.

The revenue department may direct the additional collector of Raigad to withdraw the land allotment to project-affected persons as CIDCO has objected to the allotments three times in the last four years and the collector has no power of allotment of government land.

Though CM Fadnavis ordered the judicial probe on Thursday in 200 allotments done in the regime of the earlier government as well, he has ordered a stay only in the case related to the purchase of land by Paradise Builders. There has been an uproar for a few days over the allotment of prime land near the airport to the eight Koyana project-affected persons, which was sold to Paradise builders in just two months for only `3.6 crore.

Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam had raised the issue and levelled allegations of corruption against CM Fadnavis' office, which has led to tension in the BJP camp.  These allegations have damaged the image of the BJP and CM Fadnavis. Many are viewing the judicial probe as simply a damage-control exercise to bolster the government's image.

Mr Fadnavis clarified that 200 such land allotments, some done under the previous Congress-NCP regime, would be probed. Though Mr Fadnavis ordered a probe into 200 allotments, he granted a stay only in the deal made with Paradise Builders' partners, Manish Bhatija and Sanjay Bhalerao. Now, this property can't be transferred to anyone till the outcome of the judicial probe. CM Fadnavis issued his statement in the Legislative Council Friday.

However, the transfer of properties in 200 matters is being allowed during the probe. If the project-affected persons or purchasers move court on the ground of discrimination they may get relief, said a senior officer.

Meanwhile, Mr Nirupam revealed that there were documents in which CIDCO claimed three times in the last four years that the land belongs to it and should be transferred immediately. The collector has no power to allot this land to project-affected persons or anyone. However, CIDCO did not take a stand during the deal and its nod was also not acquired. If CIDCO's move were proved legal, the allotment of the land to project-affected persons would stand as illegal.

Therefore, Mr Fadnavis has stayed all transfers of the land till the outcome of the probe. The government may withdraw the allotment, or else legally it can't stop the sale of private agricultural land of class one category, said senior officers.

Meanwhile Shiv Sena group leader in the Council MLA Anil Parab demanded that CM Fadnavis grant a stay to create third party interests in all 200 matters as he has ordered a probe into all deals. He asked the government to take possession of the land from Paradise Builders and withdraw the allotment done by the additional collector as a probe has been ordered.