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MoD To Recommend 'Comprehensive' Action Against Scam Culprits

New Delhi, Nov 3: Punitive action will be announced on Monday against serving and retired defence officials involved in the housing scam in Mumbai, the Defence Ministry said today after receiving reports from the Navy,

PTI [ Updated: November 03, 2010 21:38 IST ]
mod to recommend comprehensive action against scam culprits
mod to recommend comprehensive action against scam culprits

New Delhi, Nov 3: Punitive action will be announced on Monday against serving and retired defence officials involved in the housing scam in Mumbai, the Defence Ministry said today after receiving reports from the Navy, Army and the Defence Estates.

The action will be "comprehensive" to send a tough message down the ranks that such irregularities would not be tolerated at any costs, a senior Defence Ministry official said here.

"The Navy has submitted its report on the Adarsh Housing Society issue. We are studying the reports submitted by Army, Defence Estates and the Navy to collate all relevant information. The punitive action will come on Monday and it will be so comprehensive that it would prevent such scams from occurring in the future," the official said.

The 31-storeyed building in upmarket Colaba with 104-apartments had provision for flats for Kargil widows and martyrs' families, Army, Navy and Defence Estate personnel, both serving and retired, apart from politicians and their relatives who were allotted 40 flats.

Former Army Chiefs Gen Deepak Kapoor and Gen N C Vij, former Navy Chief Admiral Madhavendra Singh are among the allottees. They have since stated that they have surrendered their allotments.

Former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu of Shiv Sena and relatives of Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan were among the allottees.

Some of the allottees from the services and defence estates were also part of the chain of command that had "colluded" with Adarsh Society promoters to transfer the land from the Army's possession and to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC).

The Navy had raised serious security concerns over the 31-storey building in a military zone, saying it compromised the security of several sensitive installations including a naval air base nearby.

Its report also noted that the building had come up within the security perimeter of its installations and it could be a high risk to its installations, as it was possible to monitor the activities of the naval base easily from the top floors.

In fact, the security concerns were shared by the Army too in its report submitted last week to the Defence Ministry, the official said, pointing out that it wanted the ministry to get to the bottom of the issue of how the land was alienated by officers posted in Mumbai in 1999.

The ministry is also mulling action against society promoters apart from complete takeover of the building or demolishing it, citing security and environment concerns.

However, the ministry has not yet approached the CBI to probe the case, the official said.

Ministry officials would meet over the weekend to take a final call on the punitive action in the case, he said.

In Mumbai, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said the CBI has so far not approached him, seeking information on the Adarsh scam.

"So far, CBI has not approached me for the inquiry. I have already welcomed any CBI inquiry," he told reporters at Mantralaya.

"I am under the impression that Defence (Ministry) has initiated the inquiry as there is a claim that the land belongs to it."

The Central government is already doing its work, Chavan said, reiterating that the land belonged to the state government.

An initial probe ordered by Defence Minister A K Antony into the scam had concluded that there was "prima facie" a "criminal conspiracy" by defence personnel, who had "colluded" with the promoters of the housing society.

The Army had in its report admitted that its officers in Mumbai had issued a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to the society to construct the housing complex in 1999. The Navy, though, was not even approached by the promoters for an NOC.

The Army said its headquarters here was kept in the dark by local officers on the transfer of the land, which was in its possession for over 60 years, to the housing society.

The Army has already indicated that it was all set to institute a court of inquiry into the episode to fix the role of its serving officers.

In Mumbai, an RTI activist alleged that Maharashtra Information Commissioner Ramanand Tiwari, whose son Onkar got a flat in the controversial Adarsh housing complex, stonewalled information on the assets owned by him and other officials who were beneficiaries in the group housing society.

"It has been two years since I applied to his office for the information. I am yet to get it," Pune-based RTI activist Vihar Durve told PTI. Tiwari was not available for comments. PTI

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