In an embarrassing admission for the state, city collector Chandrashekhar Oak on Monday told the two-member Adarsh inquiry commission that the city collectorate while allotting the controversial Adarsh plot did not have any land records or map of the land and identified the plot solely on the opinion of an Adarsh society member.
Oak was cross-examined by major SK Lamba of the Mumbai Citizens Group when he made the admission. During the cross-examination, he also admitted that the state government had no document of title or property card with respect to the Adarsh plot till 2000, when the society made the application for allotment. Oak was asked, “In the absence of any land records and map in your office how was the land in question identified?’’
In his reply he said, “It is already on record that an Adarsh man was on site to show the land and it was identified by the man.”
This implies that the Collectorate officials, who went on a site visit in 2000 to identify the plot following a request by the Adarsh society, relied solely on their opinion and did not check the status of the land in question through existing land records or title.
Oak was also asked about a 1982 letter, which was sent from the Collector’s office to the Defence stating that it was state government land. This letter later surfaced with the state's revenue department and had a note at the bottom dated February 2000. That’s a month before the Collector asked Defence for an NOC to allot the plot. The note said: “Please keep with the Adarsh society file”.
The letter and the note show some level of collusion between defence estate officers, society members and government officials to facilitate handing over the plot to the society. The same letter was highlighted by defence estate officer later while granting NOC to the state.
However, Oak said he was unaware how this letter went to the revenue and forest department from defence. He also said he was unaware whether the then chief minister was mislead in believing this was state plot on the basis of this 1982 letter as Lamba suggested.
During the hearing, Oak reiterated that Army had encroached upon land in Block VI, alluding to the Adarsh plot. He also said that the plot did not exist in 1968.