Former Maharashtra chief minister and Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Wednesday put the blame for the Adarsh Housing Society irregularities at the door of the state revenue department, then headed by Ashok Chavan.
His deposition lends weight to the charge of the CBI in its first information report that Chavan had first proposed to include civilians in the Society, which was initially meant to be a Society for retired defence personnel. Chavan had resigned as chief minister in November 2010 after the scam came to light.
The two-member fact finding commission on Wednesday took note of a letter dated June 2, 2000 addressed by the Adarsh Society to Deshmukh. The letter said the Society members had met the revenue minister (Chavan) and that during the meeting, it was clarified “that we are agreeable to accommodate civilian members to the extent of about 40 per cent.” Deshmukh told the commission that he had marked the letter to Chavan but the latter did not get back to him on the issue.
Deshmukh also said the revenue department did not revert to him on another point pertaining to widening of the adjoining road, which he had referred to it. The former chief minister also blamed the then environment minister Ganesh Naik for not bringing to his notice various issues pertaining to clearances for the society. These include environment clearance, reduction of the width of the adjoining road and whether an MoEF clearance was required for changing the reservation of the area from road to residential.
He also stood by a statement in his affidavit filed earlier to the effect that the reduction in width was in public interest. According to him, it was because the additional land “was merged into parade ground, helipad, garden and for residential use”.
During his deposition, which ended on Wednesday, Deshmukh also stood by a statement made in his affidavit to the effect that the approval of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) was not necessary for the project as the property fell in the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) II area.