The National Alliance of Peoples' Movements (NAPM) led by Medha Patkar exposed the Adarsh Housing Society scam in 2008 by filing complaints with the Defence Ministry and the Environment Department and the State government, say activists Simpreet Singh and Santosh Daundkar.
On the basis of the NAPM's complaint, the Defence authorities initiated action and the Department of Environment issued a show cause notice to the Society. The NAPM activists applied for information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and filed a complaint on August 27, 2008 with the Department of Defence, the Maharashtra government, the Department of Environment, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).
Acting on the complaint, the Ministry of Defence initiated an inquiry and ordered an investigation. The Department of Environment, Maharashtra, had served a show cause notice to the Adarsh Society. The scandal was related to the allotment of land at Colaba that was under the possession of the Army. After the Kargil War, a few Army personnel demanded the land for building flats to “accommodate and reward the heroes of the Kargil operation and those who had laid down their lives for the protection of the motherland.”
They said the initial list of the Society members comprised 40 members and included only Defence personnel. Now there are 103 members of which only 37 belonged to the Army and only three had any connection with the Kargil War.
The bureaucrats whose children own flats in the Adarsh are: Jairaj Phatak, chairperson of the Rural Electrification Corporation; Ramanand Tiwari, former Secretary, Urban Development; D. K. Shankaran, former Chief Secretary; C.S. Sangitrao, IAS; S.C. Deshmukh, former Collector, Pune; P.V. Deshmukh, formerly with the Urban Development Department; and Uttam Khobragade, Secretary, Tribal Development.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan's family owned three flats. The former Union Environment Minister, Suresh Prabhu; Jitendra Avhad, NCP MLA; Kanhaiyalal Gidwani of the Congress and his two sons; Babasaheb Kupekar of the Congress were also among the flat owners, they said.
Seema Vyas, an IAS officer and wife of Pradeep Vyas, former Collector, Mumbai, and Idzes Kundan, Deputy Secretary and former Collector, Mumbai city, also own flats.
The NAPM says the following concessions were given to the Society as per the information it has obtained.
The reservation of the plot was modified from Transit Camp and a Parade Ground to Residential Zone. Besides this, a road of width 60 metres was reduced to 19 metres and the floor space index (FSI) of the adjoining bus depot was given to the Adarsh Society. The income ceiling of Rs. 12,500 a month was waived for Army personnel and politicians and construction started without obtaining environmental clearance. The NAPM says the occupation certificate, which now stood revoked, was given even before the building was fully ready.
The NAPM says that all these relaxations and concessions were given as it was mentioned every time that the building was for wives of war victims and for the Army personnel who served the country. But the fact remains that out of the total of 103 members only three are Kargil soldiers, and the land was taken in the name of the martyrs or their wives and used for the benefit of bureaucrats and politicians.