The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has termed the Mumbai Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society episode a classic example of the “fence eating the crops,” which reflects a “consistent failure” across State and Central governments.
“This case would perhaps have no parallel anywhere else in the country where all agencies concerned have pooled their strengths not for a common national cause but for personal benefit,” the CAG concluded in a report placed before Parliament on Tuesday.
It said a group of select and powerful elite colluded to subvert rules for personal benefit and in the process, sought apartments in a prime location for themselves, resorting to falsification of the records, suppression of facts and used the noble cause of welfare of ex-servicemen and their widows.
However, while recommending that dereliction of duty and lack of probity and accountability be “seriously investigated,” it termed the option to pull down the 31-storey building “hasty and inadequately considered.”
It said demolishing the building would compound the problem, and suggested that instead of being allotted to those who fraudulently tried to appropriate it, the government could acquire the building and either use it for Central government housing and allot some to genuine war-widows as a deserving gesture. As for those members of the Society who paid for the flats, the report said they could be compensated as per law.
On environmental clearance, the report noted that both the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the department concerned of Maharashtra government failed to ensure compliance. It said “it would be reasonable to conclude that such an omission was indeed wilful.”
The Adarsh high-rise issue came to the fore last year. The CAG noted that while the Society was originally formed to help Servicemen, ex-Servicemen and their widows, its membership was expanded to include civilians, including IAF officials, politicians and senior service officers.