Shinde puts 'Adarsh' blame on Deshmukh

Seeking to wash his hands off the Adarsh scam, the union minister of power Sushil Kumar Shinde told a judicial panel on Monday that the decision to allot government land and grant of additional floor space index [FSI] to the housing society was taken during the tenure of Vilasrao Deshmukh as chief minister.

Both Shinde and Deshmukh had handled files pertaining to the controversial society during their stint as Maharashtra chief ministers.

'The decision to allot the land in question to Adarsh society was taken prior to my taking over as chief minister. The Letter of Intent was issued in favour of Adarsh on the morning of 18 January 2003, when Vilasrao Deshmukh was the chief minister. It was not issued under my instructions and it was never brought to my notice,' Shinde said.

The 71-year-old union minister was deposing before a two-member inquiry commission set up by the state government to probe the Adarsh scam. While the commission has already concluded that the land belonged to the state government and not the Ministry of Defence, it is now looking into whether any rules were flouted while granting various clearances to the society.

'The additional Floor Space Index to Adarsh from the adjoining BEST land was not granted during my tenure. It was granted after my tenure,' Shinde, apparently putting the onus on Deshmukh, said.

Asked whether due verification about ownership, value of land and eligibility of members had been done before letter of allotment [LoA] was issued to the society on 19 July 2004, Shinde said, 'I did not approve the Adarsh file immediately. Before issuing LoA, I sent it back to the collector for verification of eligibility of the 51 members and asked the file to be put up before me after due verification.'

He, however, claimed that while issuing the LoA, it was not brought to his notice by the concerned department as to who was in possession of the land in question.

'It is physically impossible for the CM to look into each and every file. There are secretaries to assist the CM who go through all the files,' he said.

Before the file regarding the allotment of land comes to the chief minister, it has to first have concurrence from the revenue, finance and urban development ministers, he said, adding that 'without their concurrence no files are approved'.

Shinde further said that the former Congress MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, one of the promoters of the Adarsh society, used to meet him regularly regarding the issuance of LoA.

The minister, however, refused to answer when asked if it was proper on the part of the then collector Pradeep Vyas to have suppressed the fact that his wife Seema Vyas was also a member of the society.

The panel has completed Shinde's deposition. The union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh will depose as a witness before it on Tuesday and another former chief minister Ashok Chavan, an accused in the case, on 30 June.
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