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Adarsh Scam:MAKING ARMY SCAPE GOATS, by PK Vasudeva, 3 May, 2011 Print E-mail

Defence Notes

New Delhi, 3 May 20011

Adarsh Scam


By Col (Dr) P K Vasudeva (Retd)


Scams galore infest the country and corruption is rampant. From the grass root level to the highest levels of Government. Indeed, the whole world is involved in various types of scams whereby values, ethics and honesty have been put in the cold storage so that people in the rat race can become rich overnight.


Unfortunately, the Adarsh Society scam in Mumbai has been projected in a fabricated form, hence, this article. But it has not been written to garner public sympathy but simply a means to highlight certain facts that families of the victimized (so-called accused) Army personnel, feel have been overlooked/ignored in the wake of the Adarsh housing controversy.


In fact, the media both electronic and print, in their quest to be one up on the other, has crucified the Armed Forces members of the housing society without ascertaining the facts pertaining to the case.


Whereby, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) filed an affidavit in Bombay High Court on 24th Jan 2011, admitting that it did not have any record of the plot (where Adarsh Colony stands) or its title. Consequently, this proves that the plot in question does not belong to the MoD. Plainly, it is not defence land.


Besides, both the ex-Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and the present Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan have said on the Assembly floor that the land belongs to the State Government.


As per its affidavit, the MoD intends initiating action now to take over the land. Clearly, this seems an after-thought to cover up its untruth. What about the damage already done to the reputation of the concerned Army officers in particular and the Army in general?


The MoD affidavit also admits that in 1964 the Maharashtra State Government through a letter by the Collector had informed the Defence Estates Officer (DEO) of Mumbai and Gujarat circles that “it would not transfer land from Block VI Backbay Reclamation to the Defence”.


Essentially, there is documentary proof stating that the land in question is not defence land.  Considering that some of the Defence officers are being accused of “falsely indicating that the Adarsh Society land is not Defence land”, where does the case stand against them today?


To make matters even clearer, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) also filed an affidavit in the Mumbai High Court in January 2011 asserting that the construction of the 31-storey Adarsh Society tower was legal, even with a higher floor space index (FSI) owing to the special Development Control Regulations (DCR) applicable to the Backbay Reclamation area.


Significantly, not just Adarsh, but even other buildings in the area could use a FSI as high as 3.5. However, Adarsh has used only 1.32, whereas the rest of South Mumbai is allowed an FSI of 1.33.


In its affidavit, the MMRDA has also justified the issuance of OC (Occupancy Certificate) on the grounds that it did not find any flouting of rules. It has also averred that it found nothing wrong with the clearance and permission for Adarsh Society.


A number of supporting documents such as copies of the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) related clearances given to the Adarsh Society were also attached to the MMRDA’s affidavit. Pertinently, the Chief Minister as the current MMRDA Chairman has assured justice in the case.


The bogey of security of up to 1000 mtrs from sensitive Defence installations raised by the MoD has also been burst by its own admission in its affidavit. The MoD has now ordered a Board of officers to initiate procedures for declaring the Adarsh Society land under the Works of Defence Act of 1903.


Defence personnel wonder if this would ever come through in retrospect, because then the Tata’s Taj Hotel and host of other high-rise buildings which directly overlook the entire Naval Base including movement of all warships in-and-out, and the residence of the Flag-Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command, would have to be evacuated.


Incidentally, the Adarsh Society building is nowhere near the Naval Base and is, in fact, echeloned in depth, overlooking distribution of rations from the Naval and Army Supply Depots. Can any one call this a grave security threat?


Questionably, why didn’t the authorities raise any objections when the Society published a Public Notice for commencement of construction and had invited objections if any, in the Free Press and Navshakti on 19 Oct 2005?


Moreover, the Navy has only woken up now to save its own skin. Why didn’t successive FOC-in-Cs of the Western Naval Command raise any security concerns since 2005, when the construction commenced? It should have also objected to all the high-rise buildings around the Naval Base.


Equally shocking, why hasn’t the Navy taken action all these years to remove the thousands of slums next to the Navy Nagar complex and those next to its helicopter base in Colaba, which is used by civil and defence VIPs? What to speak of residential towers in Adarsh’ vicinity? Incidentally, these high-rise buildings were also private housing societies for service officers mostly from the Navy.  


Pertinently, why is it wrong for Army officers to apply for a flat in a Government approved/ registered/ private society for which members have paid for the land and construction costs (purportedly belonging to the State Govt), when the membership of each member has been duly approved by the Govt?


The media therefore must act more responsibly before casting aspersions on any individual/organisation/society. Undoubtedly, research should be undertaken to authenticate the truth instead of sensationalising the issue. ---- INFA

(Copyright India News & Feature Alliance)



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