Admitting that a "new file" opened for controversial Adarsh Housing Society in Mumbai was missing, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh today sought to downplay the incident, saying it was not a "permanent" file and was liable to be "weeded out".
After news about the missing file broke, he claimed that "too much" should not be read into the development and that his Ministry had "reconstructed" the correspondence with the Maharashtra government that was supposed to be contained in the file. "In November 2002, we received a query from Maharashtra Urban Development Department about reducing the width of a road to accommodate a cooperative housing society called Adarsh.
The File Register with us shows that a new file was opened," Ramesh said in a statement here. He said the officials tried to find the file when the story on the housing society scam broke out last year and "the search continues." While seeking to downplay the incident, he said, "We have more than 10,000 files, a few in the record room and others bundled in various rooms and corridors. This file was not a permanent file, unlike files from where we give environment or CRZ clearances or handle court cases, and was liable to be weeded out."
Ramesh's reaction came after the CBI officials probing the Adrash Housing Society scam said in Mumbai that files which include letters issued by the Environment Ministry to the state government regarding Coastal Regulation Zone norms, and asking the society to approach the appropriate state government department for clearance, have gone missing.
"Neither the content nor the format of our letter of May 2003, could be construed to be a (Coastal Regulation Zone) CRZ Clearance or an NOC to go ahead, as we had clarified by a press note when the story broke in Oct, 2010," Ramesh said. Recalling the concerned Ministry official's appearance before the Commission of Enquiry set up by the Maharashtra Government last month, the Minister said, "the fact of our continuing search for this file was informed and the Commission noted it."
He said "in the meantime" the Ministry "reconstructed the correspondence side of the file," which contains the letter from Maharashtra, letter from the Ministry seeking some details, response from Maharashtra and lastly the Ministry's advise to handle this matter under CRZ Notification 1991.