Land-revenue records of a ten-acre plot in Nagpur’s Khaparkheda village, which was leased to a trust linked to Banwarilal Purohit, a veteran Maharashtra leader, disclose irregularities, according to a criminal complaint filed by the advocate Satish Uke. The Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited, commonly known as Mahagenco, leased the land to an education trust, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, in November 2015. The state-run company had originally acquired the Khaparkheda plot—located in Koradi village, north of Nagpur—to develop the Koradi Thermal Power Station. On 9 July, Uke filed a complaint at the Koradi police station accusing Devendra Fadnavis, a former chief minister, of facilitating the encroachment of the Khaparkheda land by illegally leasing it to Purohit’s education trust.
Purohit has been the governor of Tamil Nadu since October 2017, after serving as Assam’s governor for a little over a year, and is a three-time member of parliament from Nagpur in the 1980s and 1990s—twice from the Congress and once from the Bharatiya Janata Party. He switched to the BJP in 1991 after the Congress ousted him for participating in the Ayodhya kar seva—the movement to build a temple at the site of the Babri Masjid. Purohit is a national trustee and the vice president of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and also serves as the chairperson of the organisation’s Nagpur Kendra—its Nagpur unit.
According to Uke’s complaint, Fadnavis committed irregularities in order to lease the plot to Purohit by failing to follow the legal procedure governing land transfer. The complaint also emphasised that land records continued to identify the ten-acre plot as a lake. Uke added that it was allotted to the Maharashtra State Electricity Board, which was subsequently trifurcated into three entities, and ownership of the Khaparkheda plot fell to Mahagenco for the purpose of power generation. Uke alleged that Fadnavis, Purohit and Chandrashekhar Bawankule—the state’s energy minister at the time—were criminally liable for a conspiracy to usurp the lake, originally meant for allied development plans of the power plant.