A Defence Ministry probe has "prima facie" found a "criminal conspiracy" in scam-hit Adarsh Housing Society project in Mumbai in which some relatives of Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan being beneficiaries has emerged.
Facing the heat over alleged irregularities in the project, Chavan admitted that two of his "distant" relatives were alloted flats in the controversial project but said they have given up their membership and sent in their resignations to the society on Friday.
Regarding the flat in the name of his mother-in-law, Chavan said it has been returned since she is no more and there is no nominee.
Ruling out his resignation in the wake of the embarrassment caused to the Congress due to the controversy, the chief minister made it clear he had no "direct involvement" with the upscale housing project.
The Defence Ministry probe, ordered by Defence Minister A K Antony this week, has also "not ruled out" collusion of some officers with the high rise promoters, sources said in New Delhi. " In fact, 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 (military) officers at the ground level (in letting the construction come up)," the sources said.
The Defence Ministry, they said, is determined that all those guilty of wrongdoing in the episode are not spared and a decision on the matter will be taken within 10 days before Parliament's winter session begins on November 9. The sources said there were some loose ends in the case such as the ownership of the land, apart from seeking and obtaining no-objection for construction of the high rise, though the Army had been in "de facto" possession of the prime 6,490-sq mt plot of land for over 60 years before the Adarsh Society highrise came up there in 2003. In the wake of the controversy over how prime defence land was alloted to the society, Chavan also said he has asked the MMRDA to revoke the Occupation Certificate (OC) until all the clearances are reviewed.
A controversy has erupted over how the Society originally meant to be a six-storey structure to house Kargil war heroes and widows, got converted into a 31-storey tower through alleged collusion of bureaucrats, politicians and top defence officers.
"The land belongs to the state government, based on the Collector's records. Revenue department land granted to the Society as per GR of 9.7.1999," Chavan said.
Amid the controversy, three ex-chiefs said they would return the houses if they were meant to be given to the families of Kargil war martyrs. A statement in this regard was issued by former Navy chief Admiral Madhavendra Singh on behalf of himself and the two former Army chiefs Generals Deepak Kapoor and N C Vij.
"At no stage we were aware that these flats are meant for Kargil war widows as claimed by certain sections of the media and if that be so, then we have absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in returning these flats to the authorities concerned," Singh said.
Expressing "utter dismay" over the controversy, the former Navy chief said, "the two Generals and I have spent our lifetime in the Service and looking after the welfare of our troops. I can assure everyone that it was never ever our intention to deprive anyone of their dues."