A Defence Ministry inquiry into the Mumbai Adarsh Housing Society project has ‘prima facie' unearthed a criminal conspiracy and it does not rule out “collusion” among some officers at the ground level.

After Defence Minister A.K. Antony ordered a probe, reports from the Director-General of Military Estates and the Army have reached the Ministry which is taking a “close look,” sources in South Block said here.

“Prima facie there appears to be a criminal conspiracy [in the Adarsh Society controversy]. But in all these things, we are not ruling out collusion of some officers at the ground level [in allowing the construction].”

However, some questions still remain including whether the builders sought a no-objection certificate from the Army, which had ‘de-facto' possession of the land in the Colaba area, and whether it granted the certificate.

The probe determined that the high-rise building posed a security concern, as was made clear by the Navy in its latest complaint seeking action against the building promoters and the officers involved.

The controversy, which had been brewing since the construction began in 2003, re-erupted this week after the Navy took exception to Maharashtra according permission for issuing the Occupation Certificate for the building.

The probe found, the sources said, that in the late 1940s, the State administration sought 40 acres of land from the Santa Cruz firing range for its Western Expressway project. The military, in turn, asked for land of an equivalent size at Colaba or compensation at market value. However, this condition was not fully complied with by the State administration.

In 1964, the Bombay Collector said the Colaba land could not be given to the Army. But since the 1940s, the Army had raised some constructions on the land, where the Adarsh Housing Society has now come up.

In 1996, the Army's Director-General of Infantry inaugurated an Ecological Park in the area and a boundary wall was erected by the Military Engineering Service around that land.

Accordingly, the Army used the land for training and exercises by troops. In 2003, the Defence Ministry “heard about some civilian construction coming up on the said land and at that time, the Defence Estates Director-General wrote to the Collector that the Army's interests over the land are superior to any other constituent's.”

The probe also found a letter from the Society mentioning that the military had agreed to the construction of a girls' hostel for officers working outside the city.

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