The former Maharashtra Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, who resigned in the wake of the Adarsh Housing Society controversy, filed his affidavit before the two-member Adarsh inquiry commission on Monday.
In the affidavit, 10 pages long with an annexure, Mr. Chavan denied the allegation that he mooted the idea of accommodating civilians in Adarsh. Washing his hands off of any decision on land allotment, he indirectly passed the buck to the former Chief Minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh.
Referring to a meeting held in June, 2000, when he was the Revenue Minister, Mr. Chavan said: “I say there was no question of my suggesting that civilian members be included in the Society and any suggestion that this was discussed with me, or that I had suggested or directed or decided this, is false. At the meeting, I asked the [Revenue] department only to look into the issue relating to the allotment of the land and call for the required information in respect thereof. No decision was taken at that meeting.”
Mr. Chavan was the Revenue Minister from October 18, 1999 to January 16, 2003, when the Adarsh Society asked for land allotment.
While Mr. Deshmukh had said in his affidavit on Friday last that he sanctioned land for Adarsh acting upon a sanctioned proposal from the Revenue department, Mr. Chavan put the ball back in the former Chief Minister’s court.
Without naming Mr. Deshmukh, Mr. Chavan said: “Ordinarily, matters relating to allotment of lands situated in Maharashtra and the determination of eligibility of a Society and its members are the functions of the Revenue department, which is headed by the Revenue Minister. However, in respect of the allotment of plots of land [whose value exceeded] Rs.25 lakh and plots of land situated in Pune city, Mumbai city and suburbs, the decision for allotment belongs to the Chief Minister as per the rules of Business and the Office Order, dated May 31, 1993…”
As per the affidavit, land allotment was “sanctioned in July, 2004,” at which time, Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was the Chief Minister.
Mr. Chavan even absolved himself of having made any decision during the process for sanction. When the Adarsh file was placed before him in July 2002, “the matter relating to the allotment of land was still only at the stage of proposal verification and there was no question of the Revenue department having taken any decision, at that stage, for the allotment of land. This decision for allotment of land took place more than 16 months after I ceased to be the Revenue Minister.”
Mr. Chavan signed the recommendations of the Principal Secretary for certain conditions to be included in the Letter of Intent (LoI) for allotment “prior to the grant of land”. However, when the LoI for the Society was issued on January 18, 2003, with “numerous conditions,” he was no longer the Revenue Minister.
“On January 16, 2003, I ceased to be the Minister holding Revenue portfolio and was not aware of the events which took place thereafter…I have no personal knowledge of any matters regarding the actual verification/approval of members by the department or matters related to the allotment of the said land to the society.”
Matters pertaining to the “verification of the relevant facts” were handled by the Mumbai Collector after Mr. Chavan’s tenure in the Department.
As for “reduction of the width of the Prakash Pethe Marg, changes in reservations from roads to residential, deletion of the reservation of plot reserved for Brihanmumbai Electrical Supply and Transport, matters relating to the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act and Development Control Rules and Regulations and [those] relating to Coastal Regulation Zone rules, obtaining environmental permission and clearances” did not fall under Revenue, the affidavit said.
It refutes the allegations made by RTI activist Santosh Daundkar by way of affidavits and a public interest litigation petition before the Bombay High Court. Hindu