It was at the behest of Ashok Chavan, then Revenue Minister and now Chief Minister, that flats in the Adarsh Housing Society building here were given to private members, alleged advocate Y.P. Singh, who represents activist Santosh Daundkar, whose public interest litigation (PIL) petition against the Society is in the Bombay High Court.

Mr. Singh furnished two letters from the Society addressed to Mr. Chavan when he was Revenue Minister. Copies of the letters, obtained by activists Simpreet Singh and Mr. Daundkar under the Right to Information Act, were given to journalists on Friday. According to the correspondence, the Society had decided to allot 40 per cent of the flats to “civilian members.”

In one of the letters to Mr. Chavan, dated June 6, 2000, the Society writes: “Further to our letter dated 3.1.2000, and personal meeting in your chamber with office-bearers of our Society … we wish to submit [that] we are agreeable to accommodate civilian members (members from outside Defence Services) in our Society to the extent of 40 per cent i.e. 19 members against 31 members from the Defence Services.”

Mr. Singh said: “Under the Government Resolution of July 9, 1999, preferential allotment of a plot would have been given, provided it was meant for war widows. When the Society met Mr. Chavan with their proposal for the plot, he suggested that 40 per cent private people to be taken [as is evident from the letter to him]. Consequent to that, private people came in. These were not gullible entrants but relatives of those entities which were exercising statutory authority in order to facilitate the allotment of land and the construction thereon. It was a clear-cut case of misuse of official position, and an indirect case of bribery.”

While the Society's chief promoter, R.C. Thakur, is unreachable, a statement from the president has said, “Though it is a Society like any other normal Housing Society, [it has] accommodated more than 60 per cent Service/Ex-Servicemen, including Kargil heroes.”

The decision to accommodate civilians came after the government warmed up to the idea of giving 10,000 sq.m. to the Society. Prior to the June correspondence, the January letter stated: “… the Government of Maharashtra has kindly considered our proposal for allotment of about 10,000 square metres of government land.”

This letter also speaks of a proposed 60-metre road, which moved to “the back burner” after “the government banned reclamation of the sea.” However, “two 12-storeyed buildings” came up on it. In the light of these developments, the Society proposed “there was no need now to widen the Cuffe Parade road beyond. Our proposed plot is exactly located at that very junction where the Military area begins and there is no proposal for any such widening in the Military area and therefore with little changes in the Development Plan, which is still pending for approval with the Ministry of Urban Development, our project can be cleared …”