IAS officer Radheshyam Mopalwar was today removed as managing director of the Maharashtra government undertaking MSRDC over audio clips in which he was purportedly heard fixing a deal for a plot here. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced Mopalwar’s removal as vice-chairman and managing director of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) pending an inquiry against him. Fadnavis said though there was no evidence of graft against Mopalwar, he was being removed from the post till the inquiry was over, due to persistent demand from the opposition. The opposition parties have been demanding action against the senior bureaucrat after the audio clips, in which he is allegedly heard fixing a deal for a piece of land in suburban Borivali, came to light. The clips remain unverified. “There is no direct evidence against Mopalwar (but) going by the demand of the opposition, I am removing Mopalwar from his current post of MD of MSRDC, till the inquiry (against him is over). “I have already announced in the House that inquiry in this matter will be completed within a month,” the chief minister said. Fadnavis then attacked opposition leaders and said projects being discussed in the clips go back to time when the Congress-NCP government was in power. There is no mention of the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway project which the IAS officer was overseeing as the MSRDC managing director, he said.
The Rs 46,000-crore expressway, also called Samruddhi Mahamarg (prosperity corridor), is being implemented by the MSRDC and is considered a pet project of Fadnavis. Ajit Pawar (NCP), speaking in the assembly, sought to link Mopalwar with a case of alleged kidnapping. “The PMO has sent several letters to the CMO asking it to investigate Mopalwar and allegations levelled against him. If Eknath Khadse (former BJP revenue minister, who quit following graft charges last year) could be removed why not Prakash Mehta (Housing Minister) and Mopalwar?” he asked.
Mehta is facing heat over the “transfer of development rights” to a project in the city without consulting Fadnavis. Pawar said, “BJP MLA Anil Gote had written to several investigating agencies against Mopalwar.” The government will not protect anyone involved in corruption, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar asserted. “We will not protect any corrupt practice or person. Gote is a BJP MLA and he wants to fight against corruption. Hence, he wrote letters to various investigating agencies,” he said. Jayant Patil (NCP) said, “We are not satisfied with the state government because there is no announcement about Mehta. The minister has also made some mistakes and he should be punished as well.”
Earlier in the day, the assembly witnessed ruckus and was adjourned twice after the opposition pressed for the ouster of Mehta and Mopalwar. Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil of the Congress said, “I demand a statement from the chief minister on Mehta. What Mehta did was in violation of rules. Fadnavis himself has admitted that Mehta did not inform him before transferring development rights. Still, no action has been initiated against him.”