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Ex-minister's aide facilitated defence land sale

NEW DELHI, Nov 29, 2012, DHNS 23:58 IST
The personal secretary of Rao Inderjit Singh, a junior defence minister in UPA-1, influenced illegal sale of 1.3 acres of prime land in Mumbai to a real estate developer in 2007 at a price of almost Rs six crore, the Comptroller and Auditor General has found.

The plot’s unauthorised sale in Kandivali took place in complete knowledge of then Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, who ordered removal of obstruction and barriers put by the local military authority, which red-flagged the illegality of the deal to the higher-ups.
But bottlenecks were removed after Singh’s personal secretary wrote to the Army chief on November 15, 2007 for “appropriate action.”

The next day, Kapoor forwarded the file to the Quarter Master General, who on December 10 informed the minister’s secretary that obstructions from the local military authority was a result of “misunderstanding and communication gap.”

“The land was relinquished without any serious effort to contest. The Army headquarters instead of investigating and defending its case, allowed the company to go ahead with development work in the vicinity of military establishment,” the CAG said in its report tabled in the Parliament on Thursday.

After the irregularities were found, the case has now been sent to Central Bureau of Investigation, which will find out how the defence estate officer (DEO) issued a no-objection certificate (NOC) to a private party even after the central ordnance depot (COD), Mumbai objected to construction of any multi-story buildings next to its campus. The 5,166 sq mt of land was in Army’s possession since 1942 for which Army paid rent to the state government.

In 1994 the collector of Bombay Suburban informed the COD that a private party applied to get that government land for residential purposes. Even though COD objected, the DEO said it had no objection if the developed assured no multi-storied would be constructed. A NOC was issued subsequently.

Suspicious letters

In 2007 – after 13 years – the developer approached the COD with two suspicious letters in which the collector asked the COD to give its opinion within 15-20 days on providing a NOC for that piece of land.

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