Nearly 35 retired Army officers, mostly members of the controversial Adarsh society in Mumbai, have approached the Parliamentary Select Committee for Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Bill 2013, demanding that the bill must have safeguards for buyers against harassment from government agencies. The committee members, currently in Mumbai, have been visiting various places, gathering feedback from home-buyers and consumer forums aggrieved by private builders.
The bill proposes to regulate transactions between promoters of real estate projects and buyers and pave the way for setting up a Real Estate Regulatory Authority and Tribunal to settle consumer disputes.
Just a month after the 30-storey Adarsh tower in upscale Colaba was ready to be occupied, it got embroiled in allegations that cost then Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan his post.
Two former chief ministers, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde, were also under the scanner for their roles in bending rules that allowed politicians and top bureaucrats to allot sprawling apartments at below-market rates to their kith and kin in a housing society meant for defence personnel. Among the building’s many high profile allottees were former diplomat Devyani Khobragade.
Of the 103 members in the society, only 40 are from defence forces. As on today, five are still serving and the rest have retired. In October 2010, just a month after the tower was ready for occupation, then Army chief General V K Singh wrote to Ministry of Defence to order a CBI inquiry against Adarsh, which he claimed has come up on defence land and not on state government land as claimed by the housing society members. Soon after, electricity and water supply to the tower was cut off.
Former Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, Singh’s predecessor, was one of the many who gave up his membership to the society immediately afterwards. Most military personnel who had bought apartments at the fag end of their service are now retired and have been living on rent.