Even as dust settles down on the Wadala flat controversy involving new Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, questions are being raised over the conduct of officials, who scrutinised and approved Chavan’s application for the flat.
The application was passed despite the income mentioned by Chavan exceeding the limit of the annual family income for being allotted the flat, which was Rs 1.5 lakh.
Last week, Chavan, in his defence, said that he didn’t know that the flat was meant for the weaker section, as his ailing mother, Pramilabai, a former MP, had applied for it and passed away before it could be allotted.
According to a senior state official, “It’s inappropriate to only look at Chavan’s actions since the impetus on clearing the papers was on the officials concerned. Hence, their role should also be carefully noted.”
Chavan’s 2003 flat application mentions his own monthly income as Rs 76,000, while he mentions his family’s income as Rs 1 lakh annually in a ration card copy, dated 2001. The letter of allotment of the CM’s flat, a copy of which is available with The Hindustan Times, clearly states that the flat is being allotted from homes meant for the weaker section.
Activists are raising doubts over whether action will be taken against officials, who scrutinised Chavan’s application papers and approved them. Anil Galgali, RTI activist, who blew the lid off Chavan’s Wadala flat, said, “Officials should have rejected his application right then, since his income exceeded the quota’s limit, but then glossed over it deliberately. Also, despite rules saying that scrutiny of applications will take around 3-4 weeks, Chavan’s application was processed in three days. The officials concerned are definitely to be blamed.”
When contacted, chief secretary JP Dange said, “We’ll have to examine this case closely and accordingly decide if any action has to be taken against the officials concerned.”
TC Benjamin, principal secretary, urban development department, too echoed Dange’s views.
“Finally, the responsibility of clearing these allotments lies on the competent authority for urban land ceiling (ULC). Hence, we need to study the details of the case and then decide whether any action should be taken or not,” said Benjamin.
Even as Chavan has already said he was considering surrendering the flat, the debate still rages on about who will finally take the blame. Despite repeated attempts, Chavan couldn’t be reached for comments as he was away in New Delhi.