Adarsh scam: Top bureaucrat denies misusing powers

March 17th, 2011 - 11:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, March 17 (IANS) Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Jairaj Phatak, currently under the CBI scanner for his role in the Adarsh housing society scam, Thursday denied allegations of amassing wealth or misusing his official position.

He said his family owned ancestral land in his home village in Yavatmal district of Maharashtra, for which he had received compensation from the government, which he invested in two flats in Mumbai.

Phatak, at present on deputation to the central government and posted in the power ministry, said he had submitted all documents pertaining to his properties and other wealth ‘unearthed’ by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Tuesday when it raided his homes and offices in Mumbai, Pune, Yavatmal and New Delhi.

Talking to mediapersons here Thursday afternoon, Phatak denied that he had misused his official position in any manner to amass the wealth or to give favours to the Adarsh Society.

Phatak admitted he had granted approval for the Adarsh Society’s height of 107 metres (31 floors), but pointed out that the high-rise committee of the Brihanumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had already cleared the building’s height at 103 metres.

“When I granted my approval for increasing the height, I did not feel it necessary to refer it back to the high-rise committee,” said Phatak, who was earlier the BMC commissioner from May 2007 to October 2009.

In its first information report (FIR) filed last month, the CBI accused Phatak of raising the height of the building from 97 metres to 107 metres.

Phatak said the high-rise committee had only advisory powers and the final decision is taken by the municipal commissioner and whatever he did was within the law.

He clarified that he was not posted in the BMC when his son Kanishka was allotted a flat in the Adarsh society in 2004, after making an application a year before.

Dismissing any insinuations of a quid pro quo, Phatak pointed out that his son had been allotted a flat on the 18th floor and not on the top floor of the building.

Phatak’s name figures among the 14 accused in the CBI’s FIR filed early February.

The FIR has also named several other bigwigs, including former chief minister Ashok Chavan and former Mumbai collector I.A. Kundan, other civil and retired army officers.

The scam claimed the job of the former chief minister after allegations surfaced of collusion between bureaucrats and politicians to corner flats in the 31-storey building constructed on a prime plot in the posh Colaba area of south Mumbai.

The flats in the building were originally meant for housing widows and heroes of the Kargil war.

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