The tentacles of the Adarsh housing scam seem to have spread wider than what meets the eye. Documents in possession of the Hindustan Times show that even the United Services Club, popularly known as the US Club, based in Colaba was probably misused by men in authority to ensure that Adarsh faced no obstacles.
To ensure that the society did not face any green obstacles in converting the lush green eco-park, formerly known as Kukri Park, into Adarsh housing society, the then golf secretary Colonel TK Sinha wrote to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) gardens department on July 7, 2005. Sinha stated that the 134 matured trees at the park could be transplanted in the club premises, since, “We have lost a large number of trees in cyclonic weather.” The letter, which was on the club’s letterhead, also included a sketch of the area where these trees were supposed to be planted.
Today, the US Club, however, said that there is absolutely no record of the said letter. Retd Commodore Aspi Marker, the chief executive, in reply to an RTI query said, “The letter signed by Col TK Sinha, the then golf secretary, does not have a file number and no file could be traced.” Marker added that since there no such linked correspondence, “It is difficult to comment on whether any formal approval was taken by the then golf secretary prior to the issue of the letter.”
Colonel TK Sinha has a flat in the controversial society. In July 2005, when the letter was written to the BMC, the then Western Naval Command Vice Admiral Madanjit Singh was the patron of the club, while the chairman of the club was Major General TK Kaul, who was the then General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa area.
“The commander in chief is the patron of the club and does not get involved in such club matters,” said Singh.
Interestingly, what has raised eyebrows is the fact that both Singh and Kaul have been allotted a flat each in the controversial housing society. “The posts of both, the patron and the chairman, are reserved for the highest authorities of the Army and the Navy in the city and hence, they had the authority to stop these activities, if they wanted,” said a retired army official.
When contacted, Marker said he was not in town and hence, couldn’t comment on the issue and Kaul refused to comment. Chandrashekhar Rokade, deputy municipal commissioner (gardens), said, “We have served notices to the promoters last week and have instructed them to show us the spot where those 134 trees had been transplanted. We have given them 15 days and hence, are waiting for their replies.”