CAG auditing role of armed forces

New Delhi: Government auditor CAG has started comprehensive audit into the role of armed forces, coast guard and Colaba administration in land allotment to the scam-tainted Adarsh Housing Society.

The land allotment to 31-storey highrise in Colaba, Mumbai, has come under scrutiny of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), which would look into the land management by the defence department, official sources said.

While the CAG had initially planned to audit only the role of Army in the Adarsh Housing Land, it later decided to expand the scope of audit to include the Navy, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, civil administration, role of Chief Minister and District Magistrate in sanctioning the plot, they added.

A controversy had erupted last year over how the Adarsh Housing Society, originally meant to be a 6-storey structure to house Kargil war heroes and widows, got converted into a 31-storey tower.

Several political leaders, bureaucrats, military brass, including former army chiefs Deepak Kapoor and N C Vij, and former Navy chief Madhavendra Singh had flats allotted in their names in the housing society at a throwaway price.

The controversy fundamentally hinges around whether the plot of land belonged to the Army or to the state government.

The 104-apartment society got embroiled in a controversy after the Navy had raised concerns over security as the building over-looked important military installations.

On December 9 last year, Defence Minister A K Antony had ordered a CBI probe to fix responsibility of the armed forces and defence estates officers in the housing scam.

He had asked the CBI to look into the circumstances under which a `No Objection Certificate` was issued to the housing society to construct the 31-storey building on a piece of land, which was in the "de facto" possession of the Army.

The probe agency was also asked to investigate into the commitments made for allotment of flats in the society for Kargil widows and martyrs` families.

Soon after the scam came to light, the defence ministry had asked the Army, the Navy and the defence estates to submit a report on the issue.

The preliminary findings of the ministry`s probe brought out "criminal conspiracy" at the local level in Army and defence estates to give up the land, which was in army`s possession till 1999-2000, in favour of the housing society.

The CAG in its latest report on Defence Estates Management had pointed out that there were "large scale discrepancies" in land records which could result in further "encroachments and land grabs" on properties of the defence ministry.

It said the Defence Ministry did not have a centralised record of land under its possession which leads to misuse of government land by private builders.