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Land ownership in glare

mumbai Updated: Nov 04, 2010 23:00 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad
Shailesh Gaikwad
Hindustan Times
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Who actually owns the piece of land on which the controversial Adarsh housing society in Colaba has been built?

As multi-level investigations get under way, it looks like the ownership of the land is fuzzy territory.

State officials looking into issue said there are no records available to show that the 3,835-sq metre land was transferred to the defence ministry.

What is known is that the ministry was promised a plot at Cuffe Parade in exchange for a piece of land in Santacruz., which it surrendered to the state in the early 1960s for the construction of the Western Express Highway.

“We were told that there was an understanding that the state would give the defence ministry a plot at Colaba-Cuffe Parade. But we inspected land records now and did not find any documents that show the actual transfer took place,” said a senior government official.

“We don’t know whether that’s because the transfer did not take place or whether the documents are missing.”

Mumbai district collector Chandrashekhar Oak said he has already sent a report to the state government, which states that the land does not belong to the defence ministry. “There is no such record. We asked them [defence authorities] to submit documents to support their claim, but they could not produce the evidence,” he said.

A 2000 Mumbai collector report says the land on which Adarsh society was in “illegal possession” of the defence, a senior government official said.

The housing society has been constructed on a section of a plot demarcated as ‘Block 6 of Backbay Reclamation’ in the state revenue department’s September 12, 1973, document.

However, the document shows that the state government owns Block 6 and that one part of the plot has been marked to the BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) for building a depot. Block 6, which is around 2.35 hectares, also has reservation for a BMC pumping station, but there’s no mention of any reservation for the defence ministry. The rest of the land is shown as open.

The defence ministry owns the adjoining Block 7 and Block 8, and this is also clear from a letter sent by defence authorities on April 15, 2000, the official said.

“Investigations are being conducted. The land ownership issue is being looked into,” a defence ministry spokesperson said, adding he had no access to details as the defence estate office was closed.