Union rural development minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in his affidavit filed before the Adarsh probe panel has justified the decision to de- reserve the BEST depot plot to residential for allotment to the society, saying it was done in accordance with law.
He has said that while allotting the plot to society, interest of the BEST was “fully protected’’, without compromising on public interest. The affidavit states that Adarsh society paid Rs6.40 crore for acquiring rights of the plot.
Deshmukh’s statement goes against the state government’s stance (as submitted in the urban development department (UDD) affidavit before the commission) that the BEST depot de-reservation was not carried out by following a “proper procedure”.
The decision to allot this plot to the society, to enable it to use the Floor Space Index (FSI) and thus build additional floors, is among the most controversial decisions taken by UDD in Deshmukh’s tenure.
He was the chief minister of the state from 1999 to 2003 and then from 2004 to 2008, when many decisions pertaining to Adarsh society were approved. He was also in charge of the UDD department in this time.
The UDD affidavit had pointed out that the department took recourse to Section 50 of Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act (MRTP) instead of Section 37 to avoid seeking suggestions and objections of the public. The UDD’s affidavit had also said that BEST consent letter was wrongly interpreted by their department then.
Deshmukh said: “The file put up to me had the unanimous and clear views of the department that recourse could be had to Section 50 of the MRTP Act. In good faith and guided by and relying upon this, I accorded my concurrence.” At the same time, Deshmukh has brought on record that the query over bypassing Section 37 was put up not by him but by the then principal secretary to the chief minister’s office.
The other decision refers to deletion of the proposed width of the Captain Prakash Pethe Marg and changing its reservation to residential to benefit the society. Deshmukh has also batted for this decision saying it was “lawfully done for good reasons”.