Army chief promises action in defence land grab exposed by NDTV

Mumbai: It's been a season of land grab cases. Even as the CBI continues to probe the much controversial Adarsh Housing Society scam, Army chief VK Singh has promised action in another defence land grab in Mumbai, exposed by NDTV two months ago.

Kalpataru Towers in Mumbai's Kandivali suburbs, a 31-storey residential scheme, is built on grabbed defence land. It overlooks the high-security Defence Central Ordnance Depot, around which construction is not allowed.

The Army chief has hinted at recommending a CBI probe into the alleged scam. "We have received a report from the Southern Army Commander...We will have to do something of that sort," he said when asked if the Army was planning to order a CBI probe.

Southern Army Commander Lt Gen Pradeep Khanna has reportedly alleged in his report to the Army Headquarters that the plot of land in Kandivali-Malad area, that was with the Army on lease, was sold "illegally" to a private builder in 2007 at the intervention of senior officials, Army sources said.

In his report, which has been forwarded by the Army to the ministry, the Pune-based Army Commander has recommended a proper investigation into the entire issue.

The announcement by the Army chief is significant as big names are alleged to have colluded in this scam.

Top names allegedly involved in Mumbai defence land grab:
  • Minister of State for Defence, MM Pallam Raju
  • Former Minister of State for Defence, Rao Inderjit Singh
  • Ex Army chief, General Deepak Kapoor
  • Ex Area Commander, Major General RK Hooda
In 1999, Neo Pharma had applied to the Suburban Collector for allotment of this one-acre plot. The Kalpataru Builders say the Collector wrote to the Central Ordnance Depot twice in 2001 and then in 2004 for permission. There was no response. But in 2007, the then Collector, Vishwas Patil, allotted the land to Neo Pharma, even though the Defence still held its lease.

When construction began, the Central Ordnance Depot raised an alarm but the Collector upheld the transfer.

Sources have told NDTV that MM Pallam Raju, Rao Inderjit Singh, General Deepak Kapoor and Major General RK Hooda were said to have allegedly played a role in this land transfer.

Of them, RK Hooda is already facing a court of inquiry for his involvement in the Adarsh Society scam.

The revelations in the Adarsh scam have forced the Army to investigate all land deals that were brokered during the tenure of defence officials accused in Adarsh. (With PTI Inputs)