Adarsh scam: Maharashtra information commissioner claims innocence (Lead)

January 16th, 2011 - 8:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Jan 16 (IANS) Claiming innocence in the Adarsh Housing Society scam, Maharashtra Information Commissioner Ramanand Tiwari Sunday said that he has not been asked to resign during his meeting with governor K. Sankaranarayan here.”I have met the governor and he has given me a patient hearing. I have told him my side of the story and that I am open to inquiry,” Tiwari said.

Tiwari denied that he was the main culprit in the Adarsh scam, saying that he will challenge his suspension by the state government.

Tiwari, who previously headed Maharashtra’s urban development department, said that the Adarsh did come to him for clearance.

“I did clear a lot of files during my tenure at the urban development department, but the decision to clear the land reservations and land transfers were taken by the state government and not by me,” he told reporters.

The Maharashtra cabinet had Jan 11 decided to recommend the removal of Tiwari for his alleged involvement in the Adarsh society scam.

A proposal to initiate suitable action under Section 17 of the Right To Information (RTI) Act was sent to the governor.

Among other things, Tiwari, a former Indian Administrative Service official who now holds a constitutional post, has been accused of withholding crucial information on the Adarsh society, in which several politicians and bureaucrats are members.

When the building got government clearance, Tiwari was the in-charge of the urban development department. His son Omkar also owns a flat in the society.

It was during Tiwari’s tenure in the department that the Adarsh society’s land allotment file was cleared.

Tiwari was appointed information commissioner after his retirement.

Tiwari recently sought permission from the governor to proceed on 83-days leave from Jan 7. His leave application was rejected.

On Jan 3, former bureaucrat Subhash Lalla resigned as a member of Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission for his alleged connection with the scam.

Ashok Chavan was forced to quit as chief minister in November last year after it was revealed that his relatives owned flats in Adarsh society.

The environment ministry Sunday ordered that the scam-hit housing society building be demolished within three months for Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violations.

The ministry, in its 29-page order, concluded that the 31-storey structure built at Block 6, Backbay Reclamation Area in Mumbai’s upscale Colaba area, is “unauthorised” and should be removed in its entirety and the area be restored to its original condition.

The society, however, said it would challenge the order in court.

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