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Apr 17, 2012 at 10:41pm IST

Maharashtra land scam: Trouble for Deshmukh, Rane

Mumbai: Top Maharashtra leaders Vilasrao Deshmukh, Narayan Rane and Chhagan Bhujbal were left red-faced as the CAG report that was tabled in the Maharashtra Assembly on Tuesday slammed them for allotting subsidised land without following due procedure.

As reported by CNN-IBN a week ago, the CAG report implicates Deshmukh for arbitrarily allotting cheap land in Borivali to the Manjra charitable trust; Narayan Rane for allocating land in Sindhudurg to build a community centre for a paltry lease amount, where a banquet hall has now been built instead; and Chhagan Bhujbal for giving land in Nashik to his own educational institute MET.

Chhagan Bhujbal, PWD Minister, said, "The Revenue Department says it is as per policy, UD department says it is as per policy and even I say it is as per policy. Over the years, 3,000 people have got land, even Opposition leaders have got land by this policy."

Vilasrao Deshmukh, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, said, "I have not seen a copy of the report. I will respond later."

The report also slammed the Lavasa project saying it was driven by private rather than public interests.

Lavasa, however, claimed that the allegations about concessions and irregularities were incorrect. It said it had obtained all its permissions "as per the laws and regulations".

The CAG's observations are an embarrassment to NCP Chief Sharad Pawar who had publicly defended Lavasa earlier, and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who had claimed that the project was an important investment for Maharashtra.

As the report goes to the state public accounts committee, the government has started an inquiry into how it was leaked a week ago rather than inquire into the land allotment, clearly showing where the state government's priority lies when it comes to getting to the bottom of land scams.