A shameless tale of blatant violations

Maharashtra's Congress-NCP government rejected the report of the judicial commission of inquiry on the Adarsh scam that indicted four former chief ministers (Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil), two former urban development ministers (Rajesh Tope and Sunil Tatkare) and 12 top bureaucrats.
The two-member panel found almost 50% of the society members ineligible or illegal and described the Adarsh saga in its report as “a shameless tale of blatant violations” that reflected “greed, nepotism, and favouritism”. It criticized the politicians for providing patronage to the housing society and the bureaucrats for giving permissions and clearances on a quid pro quo basis.
Ashok Chavan, whose relatives had acquired flats in the 31-storey Colaba tower, was blamed on both counts: for patronage as well as for providing clearances for the benefits.
The report found 25 of the society’s 103 members ineligible and 22 cases of benami purchase of flats.

The Scam
In October 2010, a newspaper exposes conspiracy by politicians/ bureaucrats/top military officers to appropriate a prime Colaba plot and flats in the 31-storey Adarsh tower on it.
A month later, Cong removes Ashok Chavan as CM after his name crops up in scam

Vilasrao Deshmukh, ex-CM: Granted letter of intent; granted ‘unjustifiable’ additional FSI of BEST
Sushilkumar Shinde, ex-CM: Granted letter of approval, showed undue haste
Ashok Chavan, ex-CM: Was revenue min when land was allotted
Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil, ex-CM: Hastily approved grant of land as revenue minister
Sunil Tatkare, ex-minister of state for urban devpt: Called meeting at home on grant of land, took interest despite no apparent role
Rajesh Tope, ex-urban devpt dept minister: Took upon himself to deal with proposal relating to grant of land

Disciplinary action under Service Conduct Rules
Application of Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act

2-member judicial panel needed 8 extensions from Jan 2011 to submit report
Rs 7 crore spent on panel, govt buries its report

Those who gave permissions/ clearances as ‘quid pro quo’
Former CM Ashok Chavan Dr Pradeep Vyas, then city collector P V Deshmukh, then dy secy, urban devpt dept Ramanand Tiwari, then principal secy, urban devpt dept Dr Jairaj Phatak, then civic chief Babasaheb Kupekar, then Assembly Speaker

Clean chit for politicians and bureaucrats

After governor refused permission to CBI to prosecute Ashok Chavan, cabinet felt it would not be proper to accept panel report

The Maharashtra government’s rejection of the Adarsh judicial commission report may not spell the end of the road for the case. Any citizen can challenge the state’s decision in high court, although under law such findings of a judicial panel are not binding on the government. In any event, the state’s action taken report must justify the rejection

The Adarsh society never applied to the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) for coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance through the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA)
Powers delegated by the MoEF to MCZMA cannot be exercised by the urban development department (UDD)
There was noncompliance of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act when the width of Prakash Pethe Marg was reduced from 60.97 metres to 18.40 metres. No notice was given to the local military authority
The reduction of the road’s width was not in public interest; it was intended to serve Adarsh. Key considerations, such as traffic congestion and resultant handicap to military operations during possible exigencies, were ignored
The question of amalgamation of two plots—land in question and adjacent BEST plot—does not arise
A letter addressed by Senthil Vel, joint director of MoEF, to P V Deshmukh, deputy secretary of UDD, did not amount to CRZ clearance
The letter addressed by Deshmukh to BMC chief engineer was erroneously treated and interpreted as CRZ clearance. And it was wrongly acted upon as such by the MMRDA
The procedure followed by Adarsh for proposing the names for membership was arbitrary. It lacked transparency, giving scope for nepotism and favouritism
The verification of membership applications of Adarsh at the collector level was carried out in a superficial and slipshod manner. The eligibility of several members was not properly and fully verified. Applications that were not fully filled and bore no date were entertained and forwarded for approval to the government
The MRTP Act and Development Control Rules were contravened in utilizing FSI, staircase, lift, lobby, podium, set back area and building height
The BMC’s approval for the recommendations of the High-Rise Committee over the building’s height was not proper and correct. It contravened the provisions of Development Control Rules 

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