‘Select officials flouted rules and took cover under servicemen welfare to corner prime land’

In its report on the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam, the Public Accounts Committee of the Defence Ministry has said a group of select officials holding key posts subverted rules and regulations, suppressed facts and took to the ruse of welfare of servicemen and war widows and children in cornering prime public land in Mumbai.

The committee, chaired by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, has deplored the “cavalier manner in which the serious issue of security was overlooked to the detriment of the security installation” by the Ministry. This despite the fact that the 31-storey Adarsh building has “security imperatives as per its own admission.”

The Ministry and military authorities ignored these aspects when the building was coming up, the PAC said. But they admitted before the panel that there was a security issue as the “Adarsh building is the tallest one and facilitated observation of military vehicles and personnel moving into and out of the Colaba Military Station.”

In PAC report, tabled in the Lok Sabha on Monday, criticised the Ministry for “non-cooperation with the audit” with a view to blocking parliamentary scrutiny. It did not submit to the committee photocopies of all relevant documents which it had submitted before the Maharashtra Commission of Enquiry.

Asked how an NoC (no-objection certificate) was given to the society, the Ministry said it was issued by local defence authorities because of mismanagement of defence land, poor record keeping and lack of mutation of land already in the possession of the armed forces.

The PAC said the multiplicity of agencies managing defence land contributed to the maladministration, with no centralised information available on the holdings.

Terming this a “monumental failure at all levels of governance,” the PAC lamented that “the public servants entrusted with safeguarding the public trust had brazenly betrayed the fiduciary trust by acting against all norms of the public interest and probity.”

Petition maintainable: High Court

Mumbai Staff Reporter reports:

Meanwhile, the Bombay High Court on Monday said a petition filed by two BJP leaders for tabling the Adarsh commission report in the Assembly was maintainable, and asked the Maharashtra government whether it planned to table the report and the Action Taken Report along with it.

The matter will be heard on Tuesday.