Adarsh probe: Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh get into a blame-game

3:59 PM, Saturday, June 30th, 2012
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Ashok ChavanMumbai: There is no end to the blame game over the Adarsh housing society scam. Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, who is being questioned by the two-member judicial committee, has blamed his predecessor Vilasrao Deshmukh for the irregularities.

Just days ago, Mr Deskhmukh appeared before the panel, headed by retired Justice JA Patil, and put the blame on Mr Chavan. Sushil Kumar Shinde, another former chief minister of Maharashtra, was earlier questioned by the panel and he put the blame on bureaucrats and other departments.

During his questioning today, Mr Chavan told the panel that in matters related to government allotment of land in Mumbai city, its suburb and Pune, the decisions are taken by the Chief Minister. Mr Chavan also said that a Revenue Minister is guided by the Principal Secretary, who first studies all the proposals. The CBI has alleged in its chargesheet that in 2000, as Revenue Minister, Mr Chavan cleared the inclusion of civilians into a building meant for Defence personnel. Mr Deshmukh too had said during his questioning earlier this week that the land was allotted to the housing society only after getting a go-ahead from the Revenue department, practically pinning the blame on his successor Ashok Chavan who headed the department at the time.

Mr Chavan also said that when a proposal is mooted by the Revenue department, that proposal goes to the Cabinet for final approval. And if it does not get an approval from the Chief Minister, the CM has to make a reference to the Finance Department, thus putting the onus on the Finance Department. During his deposition, Mr Deshmukh too had cited the importance of the Finance Department and had asked that Jayant Patil, who headed the Finance Department at that time, should come and depose before the panel.

Since he was made an accused in the case, this is first time that Mr Chavan is facing a probe agency.

The CBI has alleged in its First Information Report (FIR) that three of Mr Chavan’s relatives allegedly got flats in the society meant for Kargil War widows and Defence personnel. Later, Mr Chavan also granted building concessions by changing the area’s development plan. Mr Chavan stepped down as chief minister in 2010.

Three former chief ministers of Maharashtra – Sushil Kumar Shinde, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan – are being questioned by the judicial panel in connection with the scam. Mr Chavan is the only former Chief Minister to have been made an accused by the CBI which has registered a FIR against 14 people. The Enforcement Directorate is conducting a preliminary enquiry against Mr Chavan and 13 others for alleged money laundering in case. Mr Chavan was Chief Minister of Maharashtra from December 8, 2008 to November 9, 2010.

The housing scam was exposed in 2010 when it emerged that an illegal 31-storey structure had come up on a prime plot in South Mumbai, where key defence personnel, bureaucrats, and politicians owned flats. It later emerged that some of them had colluded to grab a defence plot and got an illegal environmental clearance. It also got other concessions by claiming Kargil War heroes and widows were part of the society.



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