Army chief promises action on Mumbai defence land deal scam | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Army chief promises action on Mumbai defence land deal scam

mumbai Updated: Jan 13, 2011 10:06 IST
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A former minister and an ex-Army chief are likely to come under the government's scanner over alleged “illegal transfer” of prime defence land in Mumbai's Kandivali to a private firm.

Former minister of state for defence production Rao Inderjit Singh and General Deepak Kapoor were named in the land deal issue by Southern Army Commander Lieutenant General Pradeep Khanna in his letter to Army Chief General V.K. Singh, a Defence Military official said here Wednesday.

He said Defence Minister A.K. Antony is examining the report.

The report said the land was sold to the private firm by the state government following the “intervention” of ex-minister Singh and Kapoor.

The Army has indicated it would recommend a probe by the Central Bureau of investigation (CBI).

The one-acre land belonging to Maharashtra government was on lease with the Central Ordnance Depot since 1942 and in 2008 its custody was transferred to a private firm on the orders of the Army's Mumbai area commander Major General R.K. Hooda and then army chief.

The alleged illegal transfer had come to light last year soon after the reports on the Adarsh Housing Society controversy, where former army chiefs Deepak Kapoor and N.C. Vij and navy ex-chief Madhavendra Singh's names cropped up as beneficiaries.

Khanna's letter has sought "an investigation at the appropriate level” in the Kandivali case since it involves two of the then senior functionaries of the defence ministry, a ministry source said.

Rao Inderjit Singh was minister of state for defence production between 2006-09 and General Kapoor was Army chief from October 2007 to March 2010.

V.K. Singh, in his reaction, said he had received the report from Khanna. Asked if he would recommend a CBI probe, the Army Chief said: “Aisa hi karna padega (That is what is needed to be done).”

The report, it is said, argued that the land could not have been alienated from the COD's possession without the consent of the Defence Ministry, which gave no such sanction. The one-acre plot of land now houses a 400-resident apartment block.

The plot of land was part of the 13.28 acres that the Defence Estates had taken on a lease for Rs.530 annually.

The land is said to have been sold to the private firm reportedly on an "ex parte" decision, following the area collector issuing notice to the defence authorities on the likely sale to the private builder.

There reportedly was no response from the defence authorities to the notice, following which the transfer was approved in 2007 and possession transferred the next year.

Hooda is already under an Army probe in the case related to Adarsh Housing Society in the upscale Colaba area of Mumbai that came up on defence land within the security perimeter of a naval station but without the approval of the military authorities.

The Adarsh Society case has also been handed over to CBI to investigate the role of all defence officials and civilians in the matter.