Ex-defence, political leaders slammed by CAG for Adarsh scam (Lead)

August 9th, 2011 - 11:39 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 9 (IANS) India’s former military commanders and sections of the political leadership and bureaucracy have come in for sharp criticism from the government’s chief auditor for grabbing public land to construct the Adarsh housing society in Mumbai’s upscale Colaba for “personal aggrandizement”.

Among those named in the CAG report tabled in parliament Tuesday are former army chiefs General N.C. Vij and General Deepak Kapoor, former navy chief Admiral Madhevendra Singh, and former navy vice-chief Vice-Admiral R.P.Suthan.

The Adarsh housing society scam had led to the resignation of Ashok Chavan as Maharashtra chief minister last year.

“It is a classic example of fence eating the crops; of those holding fiduciary responsibility betraying the same for personal aggrandizement,” the 51-page CAG report on Adarsh Housing Society scam said.

“It reflects a consistent failure across all departments, state and central governments and across sections of officialdom,” the report said.

“This case would have perhaps no parallel anywhere else in the country where all concerned agencies have pooled the strengths not for a common national cause but for personal benefits,” it said, slamming the defence ministry, the Maharashtra government and the environment ministry.

“As the membership of the society expanded, the avowed objective of army welfare receded and benefits accrued to senior service officers, senior civilian public servants and private individuals, most of whom were relations of politicians and public servants,” the report said.

Targeting the union environment ministry and the Maharashtra urban development ministry, the report said indications existed that procedures were skirted to enable grant of No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to the Adarsh housing society.

“It is an example of how a group of select and powerful elite could collude to subvert rules and regulations for personal benefit. In the process of seeking apartments in a prime location for themselves, they have resorted to falsification of the records, suppression of facts and abundantly used the avowed noble cause of welfare of ex-servicemen and their widows,” it said.

The report also said there was “conclusive proof” that the 3,824-square metre land on which the 31-story Adarsh building came up was in the possession of the army, though there was no record of ownership.

However, “unusual alacrity” was shown by the local military authority and the defence estates office in issuing a no-objection certificate to the society to build the housing complex. And the officials in the military establishment chose to ignore the fact that army was in possession of the land, though the title was never formally transferred to the defence ministry.

The report also highlighted that the members of the Adarsh society, which began with 40 defence personnel as members in 2000, gradually grew over the years to include the powerful and the mighty to have 102 members in 2010 of which only 37 were armed forces personnel and the rest civilians.

Among the civilians were “15 retired government servants, eight members of parliament or state legislatures and 42 individuals, who were mostly relatives of government officers and politicians,” it added.

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