Opposition Congress and NCP today alleged in the Legislative Council that Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Industries Minister Subhash Desai favoured builders by de-notifying 12,000 hectares of land in government's possession.
The allegations were made in both houses of the state legislature, leading to a ruckus and adjournment for the day in the Legislative Council.
Desai denied allegations of corruption, saying that the land, acquired by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), was lying unused, and he released it for the benefit of farmers, the original owners.
The Opposition had cornered the government last week by levelling allegations of corruption against Housing Minister and BJP leader Prakash Mehta.
Dhananjay Munde (NCP), Leader of Opposition in the Council, and his counterpart in the Assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil (Congress) today raised the issue of de-notification of MIDC land in Igatpuri area.
"Desai de-notified 12,000 hectares of land from acquisition process and bestowed benefit of Rs 20,000 crore on builders. It is a big scam...It should be probed by a Special Investigation Team," Munde said in the Upper House, adding that the minister should be removed from the cabinet till the probe is over.
Desai ignored adverse remarks of the officials of his department while taking the decision, Munde said, alleging that the land belonged to Abhay Nahar, chairman of Nahar Developer, Kamlesh Waghrecha, director of Swastik Properties and builder Rajesh Mehta.
"MIDC issues a notification to acquire land for projects. Once the land is reserved for MIDC, its price falls drastically. Then land mafia and builders buy it from farmers at a cheap rate, and later apply to the government to de-notify it," Munde said.
Desai defended his decision, saying that the land in question had remained unused.
"The previous government had acquired huge tracts of land for MIDC which remained idle and unused. I have taken the decision only in favour of farmers, and there is no corruption. The previous (Congress-led) government too had de-notified land which was deemed unnecessary for the MIDC," Desai claimed, speaking to reporters.