The former Mumbai collector, Pradeep Vyas, said on Tuesday that according to him, the Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society (ACHS) was not a threat to the security of defence.
“As a collector, I would not think that a high-rise close to the military installations would be a threat to the security of the military,” Vyas told the Adarsh Commission.
This is in contrast to the Ministry of Defence’s claim, which had said that the building’s location in Colaba is such that it offers an unrestricted view of the military installations and termed it a “security hazard.”
“Even looking at the location, I did not think the building was going to be a threat,” Vyas said.
Vyas’ cross-examination by Commission counsel Dipan Merchant has revealed several procedural gaffes in allotting the controversial land for the housing society.
Vyas admitted that when the society applied for the allotment of the said land, no survey number was given to that land and no property card declaring the ownership of the land was given. The collector had also not placed advertisements in papers about the availability of the land, as required by government rules.
“It is true that the application given by the ACHS for the allotment of land was incomplete as per this government resolution,” said Vyas.
Interestingly, the former collector’s wife, Seema Vyas, was allotted a flat in the building and her application was scrutinised by Vyas’ office.
He also said that the land was in possession of the local military authority (LMA), on the date that the society applied for its allotment.
“The land in question was not available for allotment to anybody, without first removing the LMA from the land,” he said.
The former city collected contended that he did not have any role in allotting the land to the society, and said that the state government took the decision.
“The decision to allot the land was taken at the government level,” Vyas said.
He added that he himself had scrutinised all the application forms for membership to the society.
However, he claimed to be unaware who had approved his wife’s membership.
“Membership of my wife was approved by the Revenue and Forests Department, Government of Maharashtra. I am not aware as to who signed the approval order,” Vyas said.