Documents in possession of the Hindustan Times indicate that top officials may have misled city agencies during the process of granting clearances to Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society.
At least 16 serving and retired state officials have flats in the 31-storey Colaba tower that was allegedly built in violation of environmental norms and on the promise that houses would be given to war veterans and widows. However, most of the flats were allotted to bureaucrats , politicians and Army and Navy commanders.
Most of these bureaucrats were in a position to influence clearances for the tower.
PV Deshmukh, then deputy secretary in the Urban Development Department (UDD), wrote to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on January 13, 2003, saying that the Ministry of Environment and Forests had communicated its no objection to the building. Hindustan Times has a copy of the letter.
Ministry officials, however, have made it clear that no such clearance was granted.
Deshmukh owns a flat in Adarsh. He could not be reached for comment.
A civic road was reduced in width and land meant for a parade ground was amalgamated into the plot on which Adarsh now stands.
The first modification was sanctioned by Deshmukh himself. Hindustan Times has a copy of the notification he issued.
As a result of the modifications, Adarsh got a plot measuring 3,758 sq mt.
A senior official of the civic Development Plan Department said on condition of anonymity since he is not authorised to speak to the media: “Deshmukh’s letter was vital. When the UDD writes to the BMC, saying that it has all the permissions, the BMC has little option but to give the go-ahead.”
This is not the only instance of officials influencing the process. Then Mumbai district collector Pradeep Vyas wrote to the defence estates officer on July 11, 2004, saying that no land had been allotted to Adarsh. Vyas’ letter was in response to a question in the Lok Sabha on Adarsh, for which the Defence Estates’ Mumbai Circle had to file a reply.
However, Adarsh was allotted land on July 9, 2004. Hindustan Times has a copy of the allotment letter.
Vyas did not respond to several phone calls or messages.
Vyas said in the letter that there was no record of Kukri Park in the Colaba Division. The park was part of the plot on which Adarsh stands. In 1996, then local area commander Major-General BA Carriapa had inaugurated the park.