Under intense media scrutiny over the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Friday admitted that some of his relatives got flats in the building but have now surrendered them.
In his first formal interaction with reporters after the scam surfaced, Chavan also announced that he had asked MMRDA to revoke occupancy certificates till Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) gives clearance.
The embattled Chavan ruled out quitting his post, saying there was no need to do so.
"Distant relatives...if they are eligible, then there is no reason to deny them (flats)," Chavan said, after the media expose that his mother-in-law, sister-in-law and one more person got allotment in the building.
"Seema Sharma and Madanlal Sharma are distant relatives. Today, they have informed in writing that they have resigned from the Society," he said.
Chavan's mother-in-law Bhagwati Sharma is dead and has no nominee.
The prime piece of land in upmarket Colaba given to the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society belonged to the state government and not the Services, he said.
"The land belongs to the state government, based on the collector's records. Revenue department granted land to the Society as per GR of 9.7.1999," he said.
"This land falls outside defence boundary. It was not reserved for war veterans or Kargil heroes," Chavan said, adding, "The charges of my involvement (in the scam) are politically motivated."
Asked if he felt he should step aside while the inquiry was on, Chavan said, "There is no such need. Every day one thing or the other goes on in politics. I have been in politics for 40-45 years... one faces difficulties.
"I wasn't a minister when the land was given to the Society."
Ruling out a fresh probe into the alleged irregularities in the project, he said, "CBI is already handling the matter. The state government does not need to institute a fresh inquiry.
"I have asked MMRDA to revoke occupancy certificate till Ministry of Environment and Forest gives clearance."
On the MoEF permission, Chavan said Union Minister Jairam Ramesh has written a letter to the state government. "Earlier there was a letter from MoEF saying this authority has been delegated to state government. From that basis, the clearance must have been given (at the local level)," he said.
On Friday, there are 102 members of the Society, of which 37 belong to the Defence. All the plans were approved by the BMC, he said.
He admitted the need for a new policy to be adopted by the state government on allotment of plots, considering the Adarsh row.
Chavan denied any role in inclusion of civilian members in the Society, saying "This right is vested with the Society. The right to check whether the admitted person is eligible rests with the collector."