Land to Videocon Group sparks political row in Maharashtra

August 5th, 2008 - 10:10 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Mumbai, Aug 5 (IANS) A major business proposal cleared by the Maharashtra government has created a logjam between two political rivals - Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his bete noire Revenue Minister Narayan Rane. Rane Tuesday launched another attack on Deshmukh over the allotment of a 100-hectare plot of land in Navi Mumbai to the electronics giant, Videocon Group, at a cost of Rs.400 million.

Videocon, in partnership with the state agency City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), plans to set up the country’s first LCD and TFT display panel manufacturing unit at a cost of Rs.80 billion, spread across three villages - Valgaon, Karanjade and Kamothe Node - in Navi Mumbai.

The land, belonging to CIDCO, is actually worth Rs.10 billion, Rane told newspersons Tuesday evening.

Rane plans to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi and offer to resign on grounds that the state government was allegedly serving the interests of “only one person”.

In a statement, the government said the CIDCO would hold a 26 percent share in the company in lieu of its land worth Rs.300 milllion.

The project would also get investments from the central government’s IT mission and part of the money would be raised through public equity participation and institutional loans. The project would help generate over 10,000 jobs, the state government said.

However, Rane contended that the land was being given at a price far below the market price in that area. He said: “This government is not working for the common masses but only for one person.”

The Videocon Group’s head, the Dhoot family, hails from Marathwada, the home region of Deshmukh.

While Videocon chairman Venugopal Dhoot is an influential businessman, his brother Rajkumar Dhoot is a Rajya Sabha member, whom Shiv Sena had supported.

Though there was opposition to the proposal from some cabinet ministers, Deshmukh’s view prevailed and the project was cleared.

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