Did the 31-storey Adarsh tower at Colaba replace a proposal to build an army rest house for ex-servicemen and army jawans?
Documents, including minutes of a meeting held between the then city commissioner SS Tinaikar and Major General Surendar Kumar in 1988 and a letter dating back to 1989, suggest that a welfare project seems to have got the short end of the stick.
These documents have been submitted as evidence before the two-member Adarsh commission.
Records show that in 1985 the Bombay City Sainik Welfare Board had applied to the collectorate for a plot measuring 1,000 sqm between the Backbay BEST bus depot and the Captain Prakash Pethe Marg for construction of a rest house for army personnel. The proposal was rejected in 1986 as the plot was then reserved for road widening.
Senior army officials pursued the matter till the 1990s, but the state government refused to relent. The same plot later went on to house the tower.
According to the minutes of a meeting held on January 28, 1988, between Tinaikar and Kumar, the idea was to build a rest house for retired army officials and serving personnel who visit the city “for medical treatment of their family members or other dependents and other work”.
“The project is being undertaken as a welfare measure and bulk of the funds would be allotted from Rajya Sainik Board,” the minutes stated.
The minutes also recorded Tinaikar’s approval, saying, “The commissioner appreciated the project .. on visiting the site he directed the ward officer to clear the project and grant an NOC.”
The city collector then wrote to the additional chief secretary of the revenue department referring to this proposal and asked him to examine its viability.
The letter detailed the background of the proposal by the Bombay City Sainik Board and went on to say that the matter was being pursued again after Brigadier S Surma wrote to the minister of state for general administration in 1989.
“It has been decided to refer this matter to the revenue and forest department as the land in question has been in possession of military authorities since 1940…the land is adjacent to military area and it is suggested that they do not need the proposed road width here of 200 feet,” it read. But the state government did not clear this.
Dipan Merchant, counsel for the commission, had referred to the letter in his last cross-examination. It is now likely to play an important role in the probe.
“There is no transparency in the entire deal. The rest house was not constructed, but the government tweaked the rules for Adarsh,” said Major SK Lamba of Mumbai Citizens Group.