Maharashtra CM rules out quitting over war-widows land grab

Ruling out his resignation over the Adarsh housing society controversy, Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan on Friday said the prime land in Mumbai given for the high-rise building belonged to the state government and not to the defence department.

The chief minister, in his first comments on the alleged grabbing of housing meant for war widows and orphans by military brass, bureaucrats, and politicians, said the allegations against him were "politically motivated". Chavan is further embroiled in the controversy because one of the flat owners is his mother-in-law.

Welcoming the CBI probe into the project, Chavan told reporters the land on which the 31-storey building stands in Colaba in South Mumbai belonged to the state government and not to the defence services. He said he had no role in the inclusion of civilian members.

Chavan said he saw nothing wrong in this. "Distant relatives ... if they are eligible, then there is no reason to deny them (flats). Seema Sharma and Madalnal Sharma are distant relatives. Today, they have informed in writing that they have resigned from the society," he added.

Chavan said however he had asked the Mumbai Metropolitan Reiogn Development Authority (MMRDA) to revoke occupancy certificate granted for the building till ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) gives its clearance. The Navy had recently opposed the granting of the certificate, citing security concerns.

"The land belongs to the state government, based on the Collector's records. The revenue department granted the land to the building society as per GR (government resolution) of 9.7.1999," Chavan said.