Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today sought to dismiss charges that he and his family were involved in illegal land acquisitions in Lavasa, India's first planned hill city project in Maharashtra.
The NCP chief claimed that some 300 acres of land were given to the project in his home district of Pune as part of the hill station policy of Maharashtra.
"The state government has the authority to give the land as per the hill station policy. Eighty per cent of the 300 acres land are submerged in water and there has been no construction.
"It has been done as per the policy and there are no two opinions about it," he told reporters close on the heels of a former IPS officer Y P Singh alleging in Mumbai that Pawar and his family are involved in illegal land acquisitions in Lavasa.
Pawar admitted that his daughter Supriya Sule and son-in-law Sadanand Sule had shares in the Lavasa corporation but they sold their stake around 2005-06 when there was a controversy.
The Union minister said that he was certainly present at Lavasa when the then chief minister convened a meeting there and he visited the project to see for himself the problems being faced in setting up a Lake City on the lines of the Lake City district in England.
"The chief minister visited the place and he talked to his officers. There is nothing wrong in it. It is not proper to talk much as the matter is before the courts. It is sub-judice. It is not good to talk more than this on a sub-judice matter," he said.
Ignoring a question on the charge made by the former IPS officer, Pawar suggested that he helped the "good" project which was coming in his home district and an "ideal city" is taking shape there replete with modern amenities like hospitals and educational institutions.
Lavasa, he said, will be the first hill station being built in Independent India as the earlier ones have all come up during the British period.