Scam Scum Series ( The year 2010 was one big precipitation flask for the Indian democracy. Call it crowning corruption or extremely cautious media whistle blowing, the fact remains. India saw scams surfacing like never before in the last few months. We, at aS have started this scam scum series to enlighten our readers about what went rotting in each of these scams.)
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My list of rare oxymoron words just gets increased by one, when I write ‘The Ideal- scam’. A classic story of how soul-less the Indian politicians and the bureaucracy has become, the Adarsh housing society scam uncovers the dark face of Indian ‘Afsarshahi’.
Scamming the nation in the name of Kargil war heroes and their widows is not only unethical; it’s immoral.
What ‘they’ wanted us to know: A 6 storied structure is proposed to be built in the colaba area of Mumbai, very close to the lands of Indian navy. The benefiters of the to-be-constructed apartments are the Kargil war veterans and their widows. The site comes in Mumbai’s CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone), and it gets cleared at the state level. Barring small social activists, no major hue and cry occurs. The construction starts, and a 31 storey building appears out of nowhere.
What ‘they’ did not want us to know:
1. Instead of the Kargil war veterans and widows, politicians and bureaucrats get the apartments. Many influential and high end public faces, as big as the then honorable chief minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Ashok Chavan himself make sure that the apartments get allotted to their ‘family’ members. ( Mr. Chavan was the revenue minister in 2000, when the civilians were allowed Adarsh membership. He got apartments allotted to his mother in law and two other relatives). A total of 21 bureaucrats face legal action for occupying the apartments that had been cleared for the ‘patriots’.
2. The 31 storey building is near two military supply depots that store ammunition and fuel, and a transport engineering facility that has armoured vehicle. Hence, it’s a security threat to the nation.
3. The Adarsh complex, which falls under Coastal Regulation Zone –2 norms, gets cleared at the state level without getting clearances from the union and the state environment ministries.
4. Under CRZ-2 norms, the maximum height of the building should not have been more than 30m. The building stands at a height that’s definitely more than 100m.
5. Rules are constantly modified to benefit the babus. The state government permits commercial establishments in the building, agrees to modify plot reservations, allows use of an adjacent bus depot’s Floor Space Index and relaxes the income criteria for society membership.
6. Market rate of one equivalent flat in the Colaba locality of Mumbai: Rs. 6-8.5 Crore
Flats allotted at the rate of: Rs. 60-80 Lakh (625-1000 Sq. ft. 2bhk and 3bhk flats)
7. Military officers also involved in the allotment of the plot.
The whistle blower: The Right to Information Act, 2005 emerged as the unsung hero of this scam. Without it, all the social activists, even as big and famous as ‘Medha Patkar’ would have continued to cook up nothing but a dog’s dinner. Special mention needs to be given to a Juhu based social activist called Yogacharya Anandji, who has compiled more than 300 pages of documents on the Adarsh case, which includes the list of allottees, CRZ violations and the role of MMRDA in the scam. He had also filed 14 RTIs in this case.
What becomes of this scam is a matter of time. Mr. Ashok Chavan has already lost his CM chair. The bureaucrats are running away like thieves. Out of the 103 Adarsh flats, 30 already have been declared ‘Benaami’ (meaning having false or no taker). Army, Politics and Bureaucracy, each is trying to wash off its hands from the shame-game.
The latest orders of the Environment ministry of India (dated Jan 16th 2011) can be viewed here. It talks about demolishing the entire building within a span of 3 months.
Let’s just hope that the blind escape stampede does not lead to another scam, in which the babus feed money to the officials to cut off their names from the register under the CBI’s eyes.
(References: TOI, Hindu, HT)