Brigadier (Retd) M M Wanchoo,promoter of Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society,on Monday said it was former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan who had personally suggested an increase in the number of civilians in the society,which was essentially meant for Defence personnel.
Deposing before the judicial panel probing into the irregularities,Wanchoo also told the commission that he along with society secretary R C Thakur and former Congress MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani had a meeting with Chavan,the then Revenue Minister,in June 2000. This meeting was about Adarshs proposal seeking land in south Mumbai.
The 31-storey Adarsh building had become the centre of a controversy following allegations that ineligible persons,including politicians,had obtained membership in the society,and undue concessions were given by the state and city authorities during the construction.
As per a Government Resolution of 1999,we knew we had to include 20 per cent civilians. If I remember correctly,it was Revenue Minister Ashok Chavan who suggested inclusion of additional 20 per cent civilian members, Wanchoo told the commission. He further claimed that the society had written a letter to the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Chavan,stating that it was ready to have 40 per cent non-Defence members in Adarsh. These claims contradicts Chavans deposition,who on June 30 had claimed before the commission that there was no discussion on inclusion of civilians in the society. Chavan had to resign after the Adarsh irregularities came to light in 2010.
Wanchoo,who knew Thakur since the 1980s,claimed that the latter had floated the idea of forming a housing society as early as 1994. The idea was to have housing available for Defence personnel. I asked Thakur to look for a suitable plot,as he was heading the Defence Estates Office then,which deals with land matters. Thakur found this plot,and told me that it belongs to the state government and we should try to get it for our society, Wanchoo told the commission.
Another witness,Paramveer Sancheti also a member of the society told the commission on Monday that his membership,initially rejected by the society in 2006,was later accepted after a letter was sent recommending his inclusion. Claiming that he was unaware of the price of the flat,Sancheti claimed that he paid Rs 71 lakh to the society. Sanchetis partners in San Finance have allegedly financed 10 houses in the society,which the CBI is investigating under the Benami Transaction Act. Sancheti deposed that his flat was financed by this company but he has never paid any interest or repaid the loan amount. Also his Income-Tax returns has no mention of any financial loan availed by him. Sancheti owns a house on the 10th floor of the building.