Maharashtra Governor C H Vidyasagar Rao on Thursday gave permission to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute former chief minister Ashok Chavan in the controversial Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society scam.
Reacting to the development, Ashok Chavan said, ” It is a clear case of political vindictiveness by the BJP.” He added, ” The decision to allow CBI to prosecute me in Adarsh case is illegal. I will challenge it in the Supreme Court. I am consulting legal experts.”
The development does not auger well for Chavan who is the state Congress president. On November 8, 2010, Chavan had to resign as chief minister following charges of corruption and nepotism in the allocation of flats in the 31 storey building at Colaba in Mumbai. However, Chavan had denied the charges and later ensured that close relatives of his who had applied for flats withdrew their applications and payments made for the flats.
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The Adarsh Commission report which was partially accepted by the government in December 2014, has indicted several top bureaucrats, politicians and defense persons.
Originally, conceived as a six storey structure to house Kargil war heroes and widows, Adarsh was accorded additional Floor Space Index, taking the total number of flats to 102. The list of violations includes cases of 22 benami flats. For instance, there was no environmental clearance for the scheme. The report said, “ The Adarsh CHS had never applied to the Ministry of Environment and Forests for Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance through the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority.” Environmental clearance is mandatory as the land for the residential structure falls in CRZ- 11 category.
The report maintained that the decision to reduce the proposed width of Capt. Prakash Peth Marg was not in the public interest but intended to serve the interests of the private housing society (Adarsh). Important considerations such as traffic congestion were ignored.
It points to procedural violations in modifications of the development plan. Rules were flouted to accord higher Floor Space Index. The decision to raise the height of the building to 97.60 m as per the recommendations of High Rise Committee was improper.
Apart from the administrative and procedural violations there was the ad hoc manner in which flats were allocated to members. The Adarsh commission pointed that, “ The procedure followed by the Adarsh CHS for proposing the
names for its membership was arbitrary and it lacked transparency, giving scope for nepotism and favouritism.”