Former Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Friday filed an affidavit before the Adarsh probe panel stating that the plot on which the controversial housing society was built belonged to the state government as per records and was not reserved for defence personnel or Kargil war heroes.
“The records maintained with the office of the collector of Mumbai clearly show that the land belonged to the state government. The ownership of the land was never an issue at any stage so far as I am concerned,” Deshmukh, who is now the Union Minister for Rural Development, said in his affidavit.
Confirming that the Colaba plot on which the Adarsh housing society had come up was never reserved for defence personnel and Kargil war heroes, Deshkmukh said “neither under the development plan for Greater Mumbai , nor under any of the policies of the Maharashtra government, was the land allotted to defence personnel.”
Stating that he had little personal recollection of the Adarsh file cleared 6-11 years ago, Deshmukh said the approval of the said file was based on scrutiny by “experienced administrators”. It was only after they had put their views/comment/remarks/observation that the file was put forth to the CMO. Besides, the file was scrutinised by the secretariat before he approved it.
The former chief minister put the onus for allotment of land for the Adarsh housing society on the revenue department and collector of Mumbai. In the affidavit filed on Friday, Deshmukh dealt with many questions regarding grant of clearances to the Adarsh housing society. On allegations that he had authorised reduction in width of road next to the housing society, he clarified that Captain Prakash Pethe Marg was initially proposed as approach to sea links Colaba-Uran and Nava-Sheva.
However, after the Colaba-Uran proposal was scrapped and defence constructed high-rise buildings in the area, a wide road was not required. Subsequently, the width of the road was reduced as per the procedure prescribed by Section 37 or the MRTP.
He further said the deletion of reservation on the plot reserved for the BEST and its conversion to residential purposes for allotment to Adarsh was in accordance with law and proper. This was done following the due process of law. Public interest and that of the BEST were also duly protected, Deshmukh said, adding that he had acted in bonafide interest.
“Neither was any loss caused to exchequer nor any favour shown to Adarsh society . Adarsh in fact paid Rs 6.40 crore for acquiring rights in respect of the said plot,” Deshmukh affirmed. On endorsing anyone’s membership in Adarsh cooperative society, the former chief minister confessed that he had cleared the proposal for relaxation of domicile norms to accommodate Gen NC Vij and Gen Deepak Kapoor.
“The decision was fully justified and fitting, considering their eminence and distinguished service to the nation.” He further clarified that General Vij had served in Maharashtra for 10 years and Gen Kapoor for eight years, which influenced his decision to clear their membership as a special case, which was “not to treated as a precedent”.
Deshmukh also denied that he had cleared the Adarsh file on the last day in office as Maharashtra chief minister, saying that the papers did not mention the date of clearance. “The record merely reflects the date on which the file left my office. Date of grant of concurrence and the date of despatch of an approved file are not one and the same,” he pointed out adding that he could not recollect the timing of his approval as it had happened eight years ago.
Out of the 13 questions asked by the commission, Deshmukh refused to answer seven, saying that he was not concerned with the said issues. This included environmental clearances for the Adarsh proposal. He brushed off activist Santosh Daundkar’s allegations that he had links with Kanaihyalal Gidwani, one of the promoters of Adarsh Society. Economic Times