Union Minister for Rural Development and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Friday said the land for the controversial Adarsh Society belonged to the state and was never reserved for defence personnel or Kargil war heroes.
In an affidavit filed before the two-member Adarsh Commission, set up to probe irregularities in the scam-tainted Adarsh Society, Deshmukh said, "The records maintained with the office of the Collector of Mumbai clearly show that the land belonged to the state government. The ownership of the land was never an issue at any stage so far I am concerned."
Deshmukh further said that there was no reservation on the Adarsh Society land for housing of defence personnel or Kargil war heroes either under the Development Plan for Greater Mumbai or under any of the policies of the state government.
Deshmukh's statement is similar to that of Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who filed an affidavit in this regard last week.
Referring to allegations levelled by activist Santosh Daundkar in an affidavit before the commission, the former chief minister denied that he had continuously kept meeting one of the promoters of Adarsh Society, Kanaihyalal Gidwani.
"I deny that it was on the insistence of Gidwani that the revenue department was asked to put up the case of allotment of land to Adarsh," Deshmukh said in a 15-page affidavit.
Adarsh had made several requests for allotment of land to various ministers/chief ministers from time to time, he said, adding that on a request made to him he merely endorsed "please call for the proposal and put up", which he claimed was a routine noting.
The application made by Adarsh clearly mentioned that the land was in the possession of military authorities. Assessing comparative merits of multiple aspirants is not the function of the chief minister, Deshmukh said, adding that these issues had to be examined at the level of the collector.
"The suggestion that I ordered the allotment of land to Adarsh in an irregular and/or improper manner to favour Gidwani is fully mischievous," he said.
Gidwani was a Shiv Sena Member of Legislative Council and he (Deshmukh) may have met him, said Deshmukh, who filed the affidavit through his advocate.
The mischievous attempt of Daundkar to read into these meetings anything improper is unfortunate and denied, he said.
To a query by the Adarsh commission on whether any person who is not eligible to become a member of the society was approved to be made a member, Deshmukh replied, "I approved the proposal to relax the domicile norm/condition in the case of Generals Vij and Kapoor. This decision was fully justified and fitting considering their eminence and distinguished services to the nation."
He further said the deletion of reservation on the plot reserved for BEST and its conversion to residential purposes for allotment to Adarsh was in accordance with the law.
This was done following the due process of law. Public interest was also duly protected, Deshmukh said, adding that he too had acted in bonafide interest.
"Neither was any loss caused to exchequer nor any favour shown to Adarsh Society. Adarsh in fact paid Rs 6.40 crore for acquiring the rights in respect of the said plot," Deshmukh affirmed.