The genesis of the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society controversy lies in an ongoing tussle between state bureaucrats.
The complaints against Adarsh piled up after residents of another society, Har Siddhi at Worli — formed by former and serving IAS and IPS officials — protested against the 31-storeyed tower at Colaba.
Har Siddhi, an 18-storey tower built as part of a slum rehabilitation project, is close to INS Trata, a Naval war post. The Navy voiced its concern about the building for not obtaining a no-objection certificate (NoC) before construction began and labelled it a “security threat”.
Har Siddhi residents include former chief secretary Prem Kumar, former IPS-officer-turned-lawyer YP Singh and Energy Secretary Subrat Ratho.
In May this year, the tussle grew when the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) cut off power supply without issuing a notice following a Navy complaint. BEST general manager then was Uttam Khobragade, currently tribal development secretary, whose daughter has a flat in Adarsh. Har Siddhi residents claimed electricity was cut due to differences between Kumar and Khobragade. The high court restored power to Har Siddhi, but not before residents spent two weeks in the dark.
“Khobragade had an axe to grind because Singh filed a petition against Adarsh in March, questioning the clearances given to it,” said a bureaucrat.
After this, Har Siddhi residents complained to Sanjiv Bhasin, who heads Western Naval Command, against Adarsh. The complaints were bolstered by the petition as well as information collected against the tower since 2007 by activists of the National Alliance of People’s Movement, of which Singh is a member.
“Adarsh flouted norms at all levels. Our building has all the clearances. We told naval officers that they should take action against Adarsh before taking action against Har Siddhi,” said Singh.
The naval command was unable to ignore Adarsh’s illegalities after a petition was filed and the Defence Ministry for giving a NoC to two other highrises near INS Trata, said Singh.