Adarsh Housing Scam: One Among Many

A lot has been said and discussed about the Adarsh housing society scam which came to the fore front in around November 2010 as a new low in corruption. Now that the investigation is on the verge of completion, let’s look upon the entire hullabaloo regarding Adarsh housing society in Colaba, Mumbai. To begin with the land accusation, according to RTI activist, the land housing the Adarsh society was allocated to the Army for 60 years before the society came up in 2003. However, according to ex -CM Ashok Chavan, this land is a property of the state government and from this very point the contradictions start.

The society was originally meant to be a six-storey building and was supposed to house Kargil war veterans and war widows but it turned out to be a 100metre tall, 31 storey skyscraper sheltering politicians, bureaucrats and high rank army officers. It was the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Authority who objected to the construction of Adarsh as it had violated the permissible limit as per Mumbai Coastal Zone norms. A report of the same was sent to the Environment Ministry, then headed by Jairam Ramesh, on 9th November 2011. Thus the scam came into public view. The CBI then commenced a probe in this matter.

It was debunked that flats costing 6 to 8 crore rupees, according to the market rate, was sold off to the big guns for mere 60-85 lakh each. All those who were involved in various clearance procedures or sanctions had flats in the housing. Once the investigation started, numerous high profile names came under the scanner, who had a piece in “Adarsh” pie and the list seemed to get longer and longer. From former army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor and N.C. Vij, to various Union Ministers and ex Chief Ministers of Maharashtra all possessed flats under false pretences, from sons to sons-in-law, from mothers to mothers-in-law, they held flats in all their names.

After much accusations and blame game it has turned out that T.K. Kaul, a retired Major General had a cardinal role to play in the scam as he was the Sub-Area Commander at Colaba at the time when the Adarsh plan was floated in 2000. He even owns a flat in the 31-storey apart from having powers of attorney for two other flats. Other main accused are ex-Chief Ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde under whom maximum concessions were given including wrong environment clearance and increase in number of flat allotments. However, while T.K. Kaul has gone underground, the ex-CMs have all filed affidavits claiming their innocence. Also over the months, many files associated with the scam have gone missing from Urban Development Department of Maharashtra government as well as from Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).

A top CBI official though says that a charge sheet will be filed and the case will be solved in the next two months. The filing of the charge sheet will not be the end of the story though; it will just be another beginning. As the list of final accused will come up front, there’ll be another huge uproar in the media and political gateway, which will be followed by suiting files in session courts, then high courts and then Supreme Court. The process will continue for almost another decade during which the “illegal” flat owners will continue to reside in the Adarsh housing complex.

In the mean time there may be many revelations owing to the nature of our political system and probably even a change of government. In short, this greedy, immoral and shameless section of the society will continue to befool the “aam janta”, debarring them from their rights and comforts. And we the people will always remain on the losing end. Adarsh housing society scam is just one among the unending list of scams that have tanned the Indian democracy and accentuated the incompetency of the administration at economic, social and political end. It is high time that the lokpal bill and the lokayuktas come into existence so that immediate action can be taken against such despicable corruption.

Amrita Sarkar