Chavan refuses to quit over scam

Maharashtra CM says distant relatives got flats in controversial Mumbai building

After his late mother-in-law’s, two more names of Chavan’s relatives as beneficiaries of the housing scam surfaced on Friday. His brother-in-law Madan Lal Sharma and his wife’s sister Seema Sharma.

While the flat in the name of his mother-in-law, who died in July this year, was returned to the Society as there was no nominee, the two relatives resigned from the Society membership on Friday saying they were no longer interested in the flats in question.

But Chavan, who was the revenue minister when the prime land was allotted to the Society, asserted that he had not abused his position as the revenue minister, or as the chief minister, to help his relatives get flats.

The building has 104 apartments, each worth Rs 7-8 crore and the allottees are former army and navy chiefs, politicians, bureaucrats and their relatives who got them for a fraction of the market price.

Chavan also asserted that the Adarsh land was not reserved for Kargil heroes and that it was the state revenue department land. “This was outside the defence area... this land was in block 6 of Colaba which falls outside the defence area,” said Chavan.

“I want to make it clear that when you mean family, it means my wife and kids. Beyond this, there is no question of family. If there are distant relatives and they have, in their own capacity, approached the Society to get flats, and if they are eligible for it, then what’s the reason for refusing them the flats,” he asked.

“I don’t want to defend any of that but that is their individual call. Media reports claiming that my relatives have taken possession of 4-5 flats are completely untrue. None of my relatives has taken direct possession of any of the flats,” a defiant Chavan told a news conference at his official residence Varsha on Friday night.

“My family members have given up their Society membership today,” said Chavan, adding that any allegations that he influenced the allotment of flats were “politically motivated.”
He also rejected any need to step down while the CBI inquiry into the scam is on.

Chavan said he has directed the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to revoke the occupancy certificate granted for the building till the Union ministry of environment and forest gives its clearance. The navy had recently opposed the granting of the certificate, citing security concerns.

On whether the land belonged to the state government or the Army, Chavan said it belonged to the state government. “The revenue department land granted to the Society as per GR of 9.7.1999,” he said, adding that he wasn’t a minister or chief minister then.

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