‘Didn’t give eco clearance’

  • Manish Pachouly, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • |
  • Updated: Nov 09, 2010 00:49 IST

Colaba’s Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society is in more trouble. The state Environment Department has written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) asserting that it did not give any clearances to the building.

The letter, written by Secretary (Department of Environment) Valsa Nair Singh and handed over to the CBI last week, said the department never dealt with files pertaining to Adarsh.

Nair Singh confirmed that she had written the letter, but refused to comment further.

The society has been accused of violating environmental norms and of getting the land on the promise that houses would be built for war widows and veterans. However, most of the houses were allotted to politicians, bureaucrats and Army and Navy commanders.

The letter said some environment-related clearances were directly given by the state Urban Development Department (UDD) on its own. The letter added that the Environment Department came to know of the clearances given by the UDD only after a non-governmental organisation (NGO) wrote to it in 2008.

TC Benjamin, principal secretary (UDD), said: “I am not aware of anything.”

A CBI officer requesting anonymity since he is not authorised to speak to the media said the letter claimed that the Environment Department wrote to the UDD seeking a clarification on the matter in February 2010. Since there was no reply, it sent three reminders — in April, June and October respectively — following which the UDD replied in October-end.

The CBI now plans to write to the UDD asking how and why it gave clearances that the Environment Department should have issued.

The CBI had last month written to various state government departments, Adarsh, the Army and the Navy, seeking documents related to the building and those who were allotted flats in it.

The CBI has got all the documents from Mumbai collector’s office and some of the documents from the Army and Navy. Adarsh, however, is yet to submit the documents it was asked for.

Last week, the CBI’s Mumbai office submitted a report on the probe to its national director Ashwani Kumar in New Delhi. In the report, the CBI apprised Kumar about how the investigation was progressing, the papers it has received from various departments and the documents still awaited.

CBI officers said that the report submitted to the director is the first step towards registering a first information report (FIR) in the case. “For registering an FIR, we would need clearance from the director,” the officer said.


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