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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

In the dock

Maharashtra government’s summary rejection of the Adarsh report reeks of bad faith

Written by The Indian Express | Updated: January 9, 2014 3:57:49 pm

Maharashtra government’s summary rejection of the Adarsh report reeks of bad faith

After determined prodding by the Bombay high court,the Maharashtra government did table the Adarsh Commission report in the legislative assembly on Friday,the last day of the winter session — only to summarily reject it. This is not surprising,given the formidable task the government would have had on its hands were the state cabinet to accept the two-member commission’s report. The commission puts in the dock four former chief ministers,including now Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde,all belonging to the Congress,and two state cabinet ministers of the Congress’s ally,the Nationalist Congress Party,besides several top bureaucrats.

What is more shocking,however,is the political class’s stoic refusal to admit that there is an urgent need to do away with the vast discretion available with ministers and bureaucrats. Indeed,given the phenomenal real estate value in Mumbai,many a minister has not hesitated to use such powers,not just to allot land but also alter building norms. The Adarsh report says it all. It points to the blatant contravention of laws by those in power to facilitate the construction of a 31-storey building on land that falls under Coastal Regulation Zone norms and requires Union environment ministry approval.

Mumbai’s realty space has been witness to many irregularities — be it Adarsh,buildings in the Campa Cola campus,land allotment to trusts run by politicians at dirt cheap rates,or the chief minister’s discretion in allotting flats. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan made a modest beginning in doing away with such discretionary powers by reworking the development control rules and making a variety of concessions available in a transparent manner to any builder upon payment of a premium. Earlier,the BMC had the discretion to allow such relaxations on a case-to-case basis. But the task is not even half complete. Land needs to be auctioned to realise the best value. The committee’s 670-page report — which elaborates on the blatant violations by ministers and bureaucrats — ends on a philosophical note. How much land does a man need,it asks. While not many are going to lose sleep over that question,the onerous task of making rules transparent and weeding out discretion should be keeping many awake.

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