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BEST depot plot also owned by Army

mumbai Updated: Jul 09, 2011 02:14 IST
Kunal Purohit

It is not just the land on which the Adarsh housing society stands today, but even the adjoining BEST bus depot was under the possession of military authorities, albeit on paper.

Deposing before the two-member Adarsh commission, city collector Chandrashekhar Oak on Friday agreed with the contention that the land currently occupied by the BEST depot at Backbay was under military possession, back in 1973.

This comes after the commission's counsel Dipan Merchant produced a document from an internal official correspondence, which said the depot plot fell under the area occupied by 'military hutments'. But it is not clear what the document means by 'military hutments'.

The letter even suggested that the 'BEST approach the state for the removal of those hutments'. The letter was addressed to the executive engineer from the then superintending engineer of the Bombay Circle, dated 19/11/1973.

The letter, written after the state government had decided to lease the plot to BEST said, "As you know, government has recently leased out a plot to the BEST depot from the South-East corner of Block no VI, which falls under the area presently occupied by the military hutments. Therefore, the BEST authorities may approach Government (sic) for removal of the military hutments."

When asked about the letter by Merchant, Oak said, "The statement in the letter appears to be correct." The letter was a part of the file submitted by the collectorate to prove its claim about the land being reclaimed. In a bid to prove the state's contention, the collectorate had submitted documents requesting a technical sanction for the reclamation of a strip of land in Block VI. However, when asked by Merchant if there was any document to show that the state floated any tenders or received proposals for such reclamation, Oak said, "There is nothing in this file to show that."

The same letter also mentioned that there were some military barracks, a dhobi ghat and some unauthorised huts on the land 'proposed for reclamation'.

Oak said, "The corner portion of the plot was already reclaimed in the year 1940 along with Block No VII and it was given to the military on lease in the year 1941-46. As far as the huts are concerned, they can even be on swampy land."

Merchant has finished questioning Oak. Major SK Lamba will question him on Monday.