HOUSE OF SCANDAL

CHAITANYA MARPAKWAR Mumbai

Nearly six months after the inquiry commission was set up and after most top- politicians and bureaucrats involved have filed their affidavits, the multi- crore Adarsh hous

ing scam appears to have become the curious case of former chief ministers. With another former chief minister Narayan Ranes name also propping up during the course of the commissions proceedings last week, the list of chief ministers drawn into the controversy has become longer.

Through the course of almost 11 years since February 1999, when Adarsh first approached chief minister Rane for granting land, to September 2010 when the society was given an Occupation Certificate ( OC) in Ashok Chavans tenure, four different chief ministers came into office and left, but it appears that Adarsh got its way through all of them.

However, going by the affidavits filed by the politicians and bureaucrats before the two- member inquiry commission, no one is willing to accept culpability.

Deshmukh, Shinde and Chavan, three former chief ministers during whose tenure the project got several clearances, have pointed fingers at each other and put the onus on the bureaucrats for giving various clearances to the Adarsh society.

All of them have given different versions of how the controversial high rise got the governments sanction.

Interestingly, a glance through the affidavits of the babus reveals that major decisions and approvals regarding the Adarsh society were actually taken right through the tenures of all the three former chief ministers, with each of the former CMs doing their bit to ensure that the society got what it wanted. The babus are unanimous in blaming the politicians while washing their hands of the controversy.

While former Collector Pradeep Vyas makes it clear that crucial decisions on land allotment to the housing society and its membership were taken during Shindes tenure as CM ( January 18, 2003 to October 30, 2004), when he also held the revenue portfolio, former principal secretaries RC Joshi, Ramanand Tiwari and Subhash Lalla have drawn Chavan and Deshmukh into the controversy.

Joshi has said that most approvals for issuing the Letter of Intent ( LoI) were given by the revenue minister and chief minister before January 16, 2003 when Deshmukh was CM and Chavan was holding the revenue portfolio. Chavan was revenue minister and Deshmukh was chief minister from October 18, 1999 to January 16, 2003.

Interestingly, the LoI was finally issued on January 18, the very first day that Shinde took over as chief minister. Even though the chief minister changed, it appears that Adarsh was given priority. Later, land was allotted to the society on July 9, 2004 and approval was also given to 71 members during Shindes tenure.

Similarly former bureaucrats Ramanand Tiwari and Subhash Lalla have blamed Deshmukh for de- reserving the plot for BEST depot and converting its status to alt39 residentialalt39 and then granting additional FSI of the BEST depot to the scam- tainted society. The government had deleted the reservation of the BEST depot via a Government Resolution ( GR) on March 3, 2006 when Deshmukh was CM. Though Chavan submitted that there was no question of his suggesting that civilians be included in the society, JK Gharat, deputy secretary in the revenue department has said in his deposition that Chavan was indeed present in a meeting held on June 2, 2000 in connection with the Adarsh society.

Office bearers of the Adarsh society were also present in the meeting, after which they wrote to Chavan stating that they were alt39 agreeable to include civilians upto the extent of 40%alt39, on the very same day. More recently it was under Chavans tenure as CM that the 31 storey high- rise was given the OC on September 16 by the MMRDA, headed by him. Though only Chavan has paid the political price for his relatives owning flats in the high- rise, it appears that his predecessors too had obliged the Adarsh society on

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