Adarsh land belongs to Maharashtra government, not defence

The land in Colaba in south Mumbai where the controversial Adarsh building stands belongs to the Maharashtra government and not the defence ministry, according to the judicial commission investigating the Adarsh housing scam. Further, the land was never reserved for Kargil war widows, the panel opined.

After tabling the interim report in the assembly on yesterday, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the defence ministry had failed to prove ownership of the land.

On the Kargil matter, the two-member commission, headed by retired high court judge J A Patil, said in the report, ''At the time of arguments, counsel for ministry of defence, state government or even the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society uniformly submitted that there was no such reservation.'' The commission termed the report final as regards reservation, if any, for Kargil war widows and to the ownership of the land.

Political observers say the findings would come as a relief to former chief minister Ashok Chavan who had been accused by the CBI of misusing his position as the state's revenue minister to approve a resolution recommending the inclusion of civilians in Adarsh society with the ulterior motive of to get flats for his relatives. The former chief minister's proposal, recommending 40 per cent of the flats in Adarsh for civilians, was accepted when Sushil Kumar Shinde was the chief minister.

Several top bureaucrats and politicians have been questioned in connection with the scam.

Ashok Chavan had been forced to resign by the Congress high command, due to popular perception that the state government had grabbed defence land reserved for Kargil war widows, according to a senior AICC functionary cited by the DNA newspaper. He added, the Congress pary could now cite the report to dismiss such allegations.