V.R.S. Natarajan, Chairman and Managing Director of BEML, has contested the April 29 report in these columns on the alleged irregular allotments of housing sites to the niece and a friend of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Adviser T.K.A. Nair.

Speaking to reporters here on Monday, Mr. Natarajan said the by-laws of the BEML Employee's Cooperative Society had a provision to allot sites to non-employees, such as Mr. Nair's niece, A. Preethy Prabha and family friend Uma Devi Nambiar.

However, documents available with The Hindu show that in 2006, the BEML society made an unsuccessful attempt to amend its by-laws and facilitate allotments of plots to non-employees. The Registrar of Cooperative Societies thwarted this move, refusing to ratify the amendment.

Mr. Natarajan was quoted by PTI as saying: “There is a provision under the Karnataka Cooperative Societies Act that five per cent of the sites can be given to people who have been nominated by farmers.”

He claimed that the public sector defence undertaking's management had no control over the decisions taken by the elected board of the cooperative society. He termed “absolutely unfair and against the facts” the allegation that the allotments were made to secure the Prime Minister's Office's silence on the Tatra truck scam. He also said the plots might have been returned at the behest of Mr. Nair.

Documents show that on March 19, 2006, the BEML Employee's Cooperative Society passed a resolution to amend its by-laws.

The resolution read: “The society can allot three per cent of the total sites in future layouts under its discretionary quota on [a] merit basis of each case in each layout to such persons who have rendered yeoman service to the development of the society and to the landlords, BEML company directors, executives, very senior executives, sports, fine arts, handicapped, trade union leaders of BEML, legal advisors and other people who are helping in one way or the other for the development of the society after enrolling them as associate members of our society.”

This resolution was sent to the Registrar of Cooperative Societies on April 5, 2006, for approval.

On May 5 that year, the Registrar ruled that the amendments could not be ratified as they went against the provisions of the Karnataka Cooperative Societies Act, 1959, as well as the model by-laws laid down by the State government for house-building cooperative societies.

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