The Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam is sub judice in the Bombay High Court, but a strongly-worded report from the national watchdog has torn apart the defence of the state administration and termed the irregularities in the Colaba society as 'a glaring example of dereliction of duty and severe lack of probity and accountability which needs to be very seriously investigated.'
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, tabled in the State Legislature yesterday, is based on scrutiny of documents pertaining to revenue, urban development and environment departments of the state, besides the office of Mumbai city collector, MMRDA and BMC.
It reads, 'The scam reveals how a group of select officials in key posts could subvert rules and regulations in order to grab prime government land for personal benefit. They resorted to falsification of records, suppression of facts, ruse of welfare of servicemen and their widows and children and flouting of acts and rules.'
The report warns that 'laxity in its follow-up would encourage similar attempts in future. Audit merely strives to place documentary evidence in this report in a sequential form before the ultimate stakeholder. It is for the State Legislature to ensure that public trust is not betrayed.'
'Don't raze it' The CAG opposed demolition of the building. "To raze the building to the ground would compound the problem. The building should not be given to those who fraudulently tried to appropriate it. It should be acquired by the government and used for government housing, of which there is enormous shortage in Mumbai. Those society members who have paid may be compensated as per the law. In case there are a few -- and there certainly are less than half a dozen -- genuine war widows and deserving ex-servicemen, the government could allot apartments to them as a gesture of gratitude," recommends the CAG.
The entire process of allocation of land to the society, obtaining modification rights to the MMRDA development plan, getting an NOC from the BEST for transfer of development rights of the adjoining land, getting additional floor space index (FSI), raising the height of the building, was riddled with instances of decisions being taken by those who exploited their official capacity for personal benefit, it says. The report also says that coastal zone norms were violated by the Urban Development Department.