This Article is From Apr 18, 2012

Adarsh case: Land does not belong to defence, says interim report

Mumbai: In a huge relief to the Maharashtra government, the judicial commission of inquiry looking into the Adarsh housing scam has held that the land on which Adarsh Housing Society stands belongs to the government, and not the Army.

The state government had approached the commission a few months ago seeking an interim report on the points of title and reservation. A two-member panel was set up to probe the scam in January last year.

The panel, which submitted its interim report to the government last Friday, also held that the 31-storey high-rise was not reserved for war heroes and Kargil widows.

Findings of the interim report, many say, could impact the case of the CBI that's running a parallel probe contending it's a Defence land grab. The investigating agency, however, says that these findings will not affect its case as it is not investigating the land title but the larger conspiracy and corruption.

When the Adarsh scam broke, politicians, bureaucrats and Armymen were accused of grabbing Defence land. This report comes as a vindication of the state's stand that it was government land and it was free to allot it.

"From day one, we have been saying the same thing. But the issue was so hyped by the media and after a lot of publicity and media attention, nobody accepted the stand of the government," said Union Science and Technology Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told NDTV.

"There is no conspiracy. That is established today," said former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan.

This report provides some relief to those involved in giving initial clearances like former chief ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde.

The judicial panel has been tasked with probing all aspects of the scam, including ownership of the land and allotment, as well as alleged violations of rules in grant of various clearances to the building. The commission is also looking into violation of coastal zone regulations.

The illegal green clearance against which the Union Environment Ministry has taken a strong stand came during Mr Mr Shinde's tenure.

During Mr Deshmukh's tenure, doubtful additional building rights were granted to Adarsh.

And Mr Chavan still faces charges of conflict of interest as three family members were allotted flats in Adarsh during his tenure as revenue minister.