The Lavasa Lake City case has become a ‘ghost’ that haunts Sharad Pawar and his family. How can it be possible that there will be no discussion regarding the role of Sharad Pawar’s family in the Lavasa case ? Whenever the word Lavasa is mentioned, questions are raised about the participation of Sharad Pawar and his family. Then the ‘in’s and out’s’ related to the case are mentioned. The public believes that “there is no smoke without fire” (“Bina aag ke dhuan nahi nikalta hain”). That is why, there was no sign of any distinct reaction when Ex- IPS Officer and Lawyer Yogesh Pratap Singh levelled accusations against Sharad Pawar in the Lavasa case. There was nothing new in the charges that Yogesh brought up against Sharad Pawar. Whenever these charges were made against Sharad Pawar’s family, they by-passed the situation by stating that there were no irregularities done regarding the allotment of lands or any other issues. The new thing in the charges of Y.P Singh has been that Arvind Kejriwal had full information of the Lavasa case, but instead of raising this matter, Kejriwal was busy raising other petty matters.
But this didn’t really matter because before this Anna Hazare has already written a detailed letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding for an investigation in the Lavasa case. At the same time hearings are also running in the High Court on the cases filed against the Lavasa Project for infringement of environment and several other laws.
Y.P Singh said in the press conference at the Marathi Patrakar Sangh that no complaint has been filed yet against corruption in the Lavasa case. According to available documents it is evident that 348 acres of Government land has been given to the constructor of the Lavasa Lake City, the Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) at a throwaway price. According to the instructions of the Supreme Court the land should have been auctioned. Singh also said that Sharad Pawar organised a meeting at the Ekaant Guest House in Lavasa on 14 July 2007 for getting the permission for a global tender, floating tender, roads and others for the Lavasa Project. In this meeting, the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, the then Water Resources Minister Ajit Pawar and all other senior officials were present. In this meeting, it was decided that all the expediting measures which will be required in the Lavasa Project will be provided to it.
Jairam Ramesh was removed from the Forest and Environment Department due to Sharad Pawar’s pressure. When Jairam Ramesh was in-charge of the Forest and Environment Department, he was making strong objections to it. But as soon as Jayanthi Natarajan became the Forest and Environment Minister, the Department gave permission to the Lavasa Project.
According to Singh, Sharad Pawar has said that in 2006 his daughter Supriya Sule and son-in-law Sadanand Sule have sold a 20.81 per cent share of the company to the Lavasa Corporation. But the question is where has the amount gone which has been received after selling the 20.81 per cent share of the 10,000 crores rupees company. This was the reason why Supriya has showed her assets to be only 50 crores rupees in her election affidavit in 2009. He also asked how Ajit Pawar took the decision of giving the 348 acres land at lease for only 23000 thousand rupees per month? On what basis did the Krishna Valley Development Board gave their land for commercial use? Why did the then Union Cabinet Minister of Agriculture organised a meeting at the Ekaant Guest House for getting permission for providing all the Governmental expediting measures to the Lavasa Project. What was the amount that was received after selling the share of the 10000 crores rupees company and why was it not included in the election affidavit? Singh also said that the then Revenue Secretary has strictly objected to this arbitrariness and also submitted a detailed report on this matter to the then Revenue Minister, Narayan Rane.
At that time Rane made huge claims before the media that he will take action against this Lavasa case. But after a few days he became quiet. Singh has also expressed fears that the reports might have turned into ashes in the fire that gutted the Ministry. I have tried several times to get that report through RTI (Right to Information), but I failed. But for the first time Singh targeted Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal by saying that all the reports that he has revealed were known to both of them, but they remained silent. Singh also said that “when Kejriwal announced that he will reveal another scandal after revealing the Salman Khurshid’s case, I felt that Kejriwal will reveal the Lavasa case, but instead he revealed the petty case related to Nitin Gadkari. I was very much disappointed and so I raised the issue.” Prior to this Anna Hazare also was ready to raise this issue in the assemblies at Ramlila Maidan and Jantar Mantar. But it is not known why his attitude is so soft for Pawar. When he was asked why Kejriwal didn’t raise this issue then he replied that he had to fight elections from Delhi and the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are in a strong position there. They have exposed the Congress Party and now by leveling charges against Gadkari they want to harm the BJP. Anna also said that he and Kejriwal had investigated the Lavasa case.
It is not possible that allegations are being made and the Maratha leader will not reply. Sharad Pawar said that all the allegations made by Yogesh Pratap Singh are baseless. He said that there is nothing wrong in the Lavasa Project. The then Government of Vilasrao Deshmukh provided the land to the Lavasa Lake City Project. 80 per cent of that area was under water. He also admitted that his daughter and son-in-law had shares in the mentioned company, but they sold those shares. Further, he said that nothing much can be said on this issue as it is now in court. The then Revenue Minister and current Minister of Industries, Narayan Rane said in his defense that during my tenure as a Revenue Minister I have provided the land to the Lavasa Corporation according to the rules and price was also taken for the land. Yogesh Pratap Singh is committing contempt of the court by making such allegations. After taking the counsel of the Law and Justice Department, the Government gave permission to buy this land. Singh has got incomplete information. He should have collected the full information before claiming the charges. Now the question that arises is: if Sharad Pawar, Narayan Rane, Supriya Sule and Ajit Pawar are saying there has been nothing illegal in the Lavasa Project, then why are questions are being repeatedly raised against it? It is evident that the Lavasa Lake City is the dream project of Sharad Pawar. He wants to make this project successful at any cost. Jairam Ramesh was removed from the Forest and Environment department due to his pressure. Until Jairam Ramesh was in-charge of the Forest and Environment Department he was making strong objections to it. But as soon as Jayanthi Natarajan became the Forest and Environment Minister, the Department gave permission to the Lavasa Project. Regarding this issue Anna Hazare has a written letter twice to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. So Yogesh is wrong in saying that Anna hasn’t raised this issue. But it is true that he didn’t raise this issue before the media. It is also true that the allegations that are claimed by Yogesh are authentic but there is nothing new in them. The reason behind this is since the construction of the Lavasa Lake City Project has started, since then it has been embroiled in several disputes. Despite this, its work has continued intermittently, because due to political pressure all its obstacles were being removed. That is why no matter how many clarifications Sharad Pawar might give in this case, the ‘Ghost’ of Lavasa will continue to haunt him.
CAG Report Reprimands State Government
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has stated objections to the Lavasa Project and also attacked the Government. That is why there is no longer any trust that can be reposed in the clarifications given by Sharad Pawar and other Ministers in the Lavasa case. Lavasa Lake City is the dream city of Pawar — he always had eyes on it. That is why no Ministers or officials of the State ever had the guts to raise voice against the Lavasa Project. A few months ago, CAG through his report had strongly reprimanded the State Government for its kindness to the Lavasa Project. From the report of the CAG, the hollowness of Sharad Pawar is clearly noticeable. According to the report, all the rules and regulations were changed for helping the Lavasa Project. It has been reported that the decision for giving the status of ‘Special Authority’ to the Lavasa Project was totally wrong. CAG had also objected to giving the 348 acres land of Krishna Valley. After the pandemonium that took place in the Vidhan Sabha regarding the complaints of land acquisition of the tribals, the Government did nothing on this issue except giving assurances. The meeting that was organised in the Ekaant Guest House regarding the Lavasa Project was already revealed by Devendra Fadnavis in the Vidhan Sabha. If we look at the last 10 years then we will find that all the Chief Ministers who were in charge during this period had helped in advancing the work of the Lavasa Project in all possible ways. Two months ago, Sharad Pawar had met his friend Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman of the HCC and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan regarding the Lavasa Project. What was discussed in that meeting is not known, but it is being said that Pawar wanted the Lavasa Project to get relief from the cases filed in the court. Today the situation is such that nobody in the Revenue Department and Environment Department or any Ministers and officials in the Ministry are ready to say anything against the Lavasa Project. The reason behind this is that everybody knows whose dream project it is.