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Housing scam: Ex-minister wants Adarsh money back

Shiv Sena leader and former Union environment minister Suresh Prabhu said he would send a notice to Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society asking it to return the money he paid for a flat in the 31-storey tower. He also denied granting it any environmental clearance. Sayli Udas Mankikar reports. 'It wasn't me'

delhi Updated: Nov 03, 2010 02:04 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Hindustan Times

Shiv Sena leader and former Union environment minister Suresh Prabhu said he would send a notice to Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society asking it to return the money he paid for a flat in the 31-storey tower. He also denied granting it any environmental clearance.

The tower at Colaba was allegedly built in violation of environmental norms and on the promise that houses would be given to Kargil war veterans and widows. However, most of the flats were allotted to bureaucrats, politicians and army and navy commanders.

The Congress had accused Prabhu of clearing the project while he was environment minister in the National Democratic Alliance government.

"I was not a minister when the clearance was given. I held the post in 1998-1999," said Prabhu on the phone from Singapore on Tuesday. He pointed out that it was the DMK's TR Baalu who was environment minister in 2003.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is a partner in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.

The plot on which the society stands is part of the Coastal Regulation Zone 1, the most eco-sensitive coastal area because it has mangroves and mudflats. In such zones projects costing more than R5 crore require clearance by the Union environment ministry.

Ministry officials, however, have said no sanction was given to the Adarsh project.

Prabhu said he is not a promoter or office-bearer of the society. "I got a flat that was part of a quota for MPs and because it was going at a concession. I took a home loan for it and the flat is still on mortgage," he said.

Prabhu said he got all the clearances required for the loan, including an approval from the collector. "Now I find out the project is in trouble. I will send a notice to the society asking it to return my money," he said.

He insisted that he was not aware of any violations by the society.

First Published: Nov 03, 2010 00:24 IST