Adarsh – Ideal, Really??

Amidst the love, bliss, diversity and democracy that we see in India, what we also get to see is corruption, a weed that has extended its wings to every nook and corner of the country, a weed that is so obnoxious that it has engulfed nearly all categories of people and professions. Owing to corruption issues, the faith of the public in the government has started to fizzle out long before and with the defence also getting mudded due to alleged corruption; the trust seems to have got breached till death. Yes, the Adarsh cooperative housing society scam, ironically, lends no credence to the belief of idealism it was intended to lend.

A scam that lays periphery to a building that stands tainted for over 11 years now. The Adarsh building hogged the limelight for all the wrong reasons. The building supposed to be a 6-storey building for the Kargil war widows and war veterans, stands tall at around 100 metres with 31-storeys presently. The imposing edifice resides in the posh area of Colaba in southern Mumbai.
The tainted building came to fore to face the furore of a million, when a flurry of wrongdoings were observed in everything related to the building, be it the structure, be it the number of floors, be it the residents, or be it the breaching of norms and rules.

The tainted building came into the picture primarily because of nepotism shown during allotment of the flats that make up the building. Then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan, was supposed to have 3 of his relatives housed in the building, including his mother-in-law. What made matters worse was that the flats priced in the range 6.0-8.5 crores were given away for a relatively meagre 60-75 lacs only. The flats meant for Kargil war widows and war veterans were given away to bureaucrats and politicians which projected in bad light the respect we have for our warriors.

The tainted structure seemed to be getting trapped into a marshy land when the ministry of environment and forests also came up with its findings and regulations. The Adarsh cooperative housing society violated the Coastal regulation zone act, 1991. Being situated in a coastal area, the building was said to disturb the ecosystem.

What added salt to injury was the fact that the building housed some defence officers including three former chiefs. For the defence of the country, which is held in high esteem by one and all, to be involved in such a shameful act served the purpose of being the last nail in the coffin.

The government also came under the scanner when Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) revoked the Occupation Certificate (OC) after granting it earlier. It invalidated it on the grounds that Adarsh housing society did not obtain clearance from the environment and forest ministry. In that case, why did the government grant the OC in the first place then, is yet to be answered?

The government then left the ball in MoEF’s (Ministry of Environment and Forests) court by letting them decide the further course of action on the scam. Owing to all such problems, BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) and BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) decided to cut the power and water supplies to the building from November 3rd, 2010.
On 16th January 2011, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh exercised the option of demolishing the unauthorised structure within 3 months, on the grounds of it violating the CRZ Act, 1991. However, he did mull over the other two options, one of which was removing a part of the building in excess of floor space index, and the other being takeover of the building by government to public use.

In response to the Defence Minister A.K Antony’s statement on 31st January, 2011, CBI took appropriate action and reported the accused to the Bombay HC, on 1st February 2011.
Due to the circumstances, the Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had to step down and his resignation was accepted on 9th November, 2010 and Prithviraj Chavan was made CM the subsequent day.
However, after environment minister Jairam Ramesh ordered demolition of the structure and restoring the place in original condition, the 103 residents of the Adarsh cooperative housing society scam challenged his decision in the Bombay HC.

Whatever the decision may be, the demolition of a structure does no good to anyone. Apart from the monetary loss that is incurred, a lot of manpower also goes in drain. But to set a precedent to such a scam, a strong course of action needs to be pursued. The Adarsh housing society should be evacuated and the fresh allotments shall be made to the Kargil war widows and war veterans in a more fair and square manner, and the ones whom people look up to should realize their responsibility, and should not indulge in acts that bring with them shame and dishonour.

Animesh Ganguly

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