The Candid Eye

November 11, 2010

The media has misled us on the Adarsh scam!

An article by Carl H. Gomes on Vigil Online throws light on unknown truths about Adarsh Housing scam.

Now that the dust has settled and the stench (from the shit that hit the fan) has blown away, we can perhaps look at the Adarsh scam a little dispassionately. The media (both print and electronic) really went to town on this because there is nothing that the media loves better than to tear a person?s reputation to shreds and the truth be damned. If Armed Forces officers are involved, the ferocity of the attack is worse because they can in addition sully the uniform and the institution, since the politician and the bureaucrat are impervious. And as they say, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall!”

Adarsh Housing in South Mumbai

The ..housing for widows of the “martyrs” of Kargil? is a media creation because the scheme was never meant for them nor was the plot reserved in their name. No government, however magnanimous, would have allotted such a prohibitively expensive plot in a prime location to Kargil heroes or their widows. A more likely place would have been in the satellite town of Navi Mumbai, or in Nagpur or Nasik, where land is available aplenty. The project was never promoted as a housing project for the ..widows of Kargil?; but the Kargil conflict itself was used as a ploy to get the land transferred to the society with the active connivance of the Defence Estate Officers, one of who became a promoter. Because of its location on the boundary of defence land and was in the physical possession of the Army, it had no commercial potential for a civilian project. It was the brain child of Maj Gen AR Kumar, Area Cdr/GOC (1999-2000), when the Kargil war was in progress and his deputy Brig TK Kaul. Subsequently all Area Cdrs and Sub-area Cdrs from 2000 to 2010 have been allotted flats in the building as a quid pro quo apparently to buy their silence. The Navy had no role to play in giving clearances at that time but top naval brass were offered flats all the same as one of the promoters was a naval officer. They were probably offered the “right of first refusal” but refused to refuse the offer. The other lower ranked officers (including a Petty Officer) either got it courtesy of one or other of the promoters or they just got lucky. No one looks a gift horse in the mouth!

The Adarsh plot is not located in far away Yeotmal or Aurangabad but in tony South Bombay (So Bo, as it is called) where property prices are the highest in the world and there is little vacant land left. It is just a stone?s throw away from and in full view of the headquarters of the Maharashtra government, “Mantralaya”, the BMC Headquarters and the Headquarters of the GOC, M&G Area. The building did not come up surreptitiously but grew in stature under the benign gaze of the worthies who occupy these hallowed premises and had their blessings.

Ashok Chavan

The problems really started when the Revenue Minister (now Chief Minister) Ashok Chavan demanded 40% of the flats for civilians (read politicians and bureaucrats). A modest housing project of 6 floors slowly expanded to 31 floors to accommodate the swelling demand from these big wigs who high jacked the project and colluded with the builder to break every rule in the statute book with impunity. The building is a monument to deceit to all the people of Maharashtra/Mumbai/India and not just the Kargil heroes/widows, most of whom have already got houses in New Delhi in the Dwarka project. This project never had any link to ‘war veterans and/or widows of Kargil’ who were the invisible pawns in the game. We have only been compelled by the media to think that way. In fact, membership was restricted to Maharashtrians and those who could prove domicile in Maharashtra – so much so even the two former Army Chiefs did not just walk in – they had to get exemption from the highest levels of the government, even though this is not a government project.

Let us consider the following:

This is India, the country where the Armed Forces are just ‘use and throw? commodities like “curry patha”. This is Maharashtra which is one of the few states that does not have any sympathy or respect for the Armed Forces – the only state that charges the maximum taxes on goods sold through the CSD, including liquor. This is Mumbai which is the only city that does not exempt Armed Forces veterans from paying property tax on their houses even if it is ..self-occupied?.

The Govt could have selected a location where the land is cheaper and available in abundance like Navi Mumbai or also in places to which most of such heroes and widows would have belonged. It is hard to imagine a farmer from Haryana or a villager from Bihar wanting to stay in a tony area with the Ambanis as their neighbours – the Ambani residence SEAWIND is just next door.

The plot had CRZ restrictions due to which only a six-storied building could be officially built; thus, with 3 to 4 flats per floor, maximum 20 three bedroom flats – OR – not more than 30 two bed-room flats. would have come up.

This is a self financed scheme – not free houses. Their life-time savings (even if those martyrs had been alive) could not have enabled them to dream of possessing a house at the above location. The cost of land alone is in excess of Rs 60,000/- per sq. ft.

Heroes and widows of Kargil war number more than one thousand. Most of them have already been allotted flats in Dwarka in Delhi or in their own home states – and hence have no need for a second home. Besides, it is unthinkable that the Army would think of a welfare activity which could benefit just a small fraction of deserving personnel.

The Navy did not participate in the Kargil conflict yet there are several naval personnel amongst the members. The Air Force did participate but not one AF person is a member.

Security clearance from the Navy became an issue only in 2009 after the Navy was made responsible for coastal security in the wake of the 26/11 terrorist strike on Mumbai. The spot where the terrorists landed is only a few hundred metres up the road from Adarsh on Cuffe Parade. That is how the Navy raised a flag; but by that time the building was almost complete.

This was a scandal that was waiting to happen – it is neither the first, nor is it the last in an unending series of such scams that have dotted the Maharashtra landscape. Because of its location, Adarsh is very visible but it is just the tip of the iceberg; what of the innumerable Adarshes across the country which is driven by the greed of the rapacious builder-politician- bureaucrat nexus? The armed forces personnel, serving and retired are guilty by association and of impropriety and collusion. They will definitely face justice of one kind or another but will the politician and the bureaucrat be touched? We have seen what happens to them post 26/11.

Liar Rajdeep Sardesai

55% of Mumbai?s population of 15 million live in slums or on the streets while 13 % live in ownership flats. 70% of the rest live in one-room tenements, some of which are crumbling. In a scenario of such abject deprivation, Adarsh is a monument of shame. Let us not drag the names of Kargil heroes into this filth even by association, which the media (Arnab Goswami and Rajdeep Sardesai) insists on doing. I cannot ask retired officers to stop appearing on TV talk shows, but I wish they would because they make asses of themselves.

– Carl H. Gomes.

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October 19, 2009

BPL families pay 16 crore rupees as bribe to our goverment servants!!

Have you ever gotten your driving license or family card or voter’s id or any thing on time,from a government office without paying anything ?You can consider yourself lucky if you have/get any of these things without paying any money as bribe.Jharkand goverment officials are the ones who are welathier than their counterparts in the world.These leeches suck the blood not only from wealthier people but also from the downtrodden people of the state.

Jharkhand State

Jharkhand State

Jharkhand government employees do not spare even people living below poverty line (BPL) when it comes to extracting bribes. The extent of greed can be assessed from the fact that the total bribe paid by BPL families in Jharkhand in 2008 was around Rs 16 crore.

This revelation was made in the annual survey report of Transparency International India (TII). To ensure that the results of the survey holds ground at the time of any verification, TII had documented complaints of every person who paid bribe. TII project director Vineeta Singh said the amount of bribe paid to the officials was small because the affected people paid the same from their pocket.

TII executive director Anupama Jha shared the findings during the launch of `Pahal’ for improving governance in rural areas of Jharkhand. “Anyone can gauge the extent of corruption in the state by the total bribe paid by the poorest of the poor in Jharhand. In 2008, the total bribe paid by BPL households was around 16 crore,” Jha said. The number of BPL households in the state is around 25 lakh.

Corruption in India

Corruption in India : Image Courtesy - http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/

The finding shows that corruption was highest in basic services which are free for BPL families like health, school education and water supply. Corruption is also rampant in police department and schemes under NREGA, land record and banking.

Another surprising fact that came out during the survey was that less than 5% of BPL families were aware of Right to Information Act. Director general of state administrative training institute AK Singh, a Cabinet secretary-rank officer, admitted that most government employees accept bribes.

“`Jharkhand is perhaps the only state in the country where even ministers demand a bribe and the percentage is fixed. I have worked in Bihar but there the ministers do not fix any fixed percentage for bribe on every tender,” Singh said.

Singh referred to an incident of building construction department where he was asked to pass the estimate of a building before floating a tender when the work was over. “I was surprised when my colleagues brought the file for approval of estimate of the building which was already complete,” Singh said.

Source: TOI

September 6, 2009

Naxalism – a threat to unified nation of India – 5

From TOI.

NEW DELHI: The CPI (Maoist) has a budget of no less than Rs 60 crore for carrying out its armed struggle during 2007-09.

naxal-killed-police

Bodies of police personnel killed in Maoist attacks at Nayagarh (PTI Photo)

And of that, Rs 42 crore is earmarked for arms, ammunition and explosives, Rs 2 crore for intelligence gathering, an indicator of how Naxalites are prepared to pay an entrenched ring of informers. The remaining amount is allocated for transportation, computer training, propaganda and documentation.

The revelations came from Misir Besra, a top-rung Maoist leader who was arrested in Jharkhand recently. The statements by Besra, also known as Sunirmal, are significant in view of Friday’s attacks in Orissa as Besra, a “politburo” leader, had specifically spoken of police stations in the state being on the Naxalite hitlist, along with a few individuals, politicians and officers in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

The Nayagarh attack points to the authenticity of Besra’s “product”. If his comrades knew of his arrest, the determination to still go ahead with the attack speaks volumes of the confidence and gumption of the ultras.

Even though the Naxalites have of late taken a beating in Andhra Pradesh, the group’s leadership remains firmly in the grip of comrades from the state. As many of seven politburo members are from Andhra Pradesh, with four — including party general secretary Muppala Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathi — coming from Karimnagar, a district long affected by Naxalite presence.

The secretive ways of the Naxalite leadership and its success in avoiding identification despite on-off peace talks had put investigators at a disadvantage. But now, agencies have an exact idea of the structure headed by a politburo comprising 14 permanent members and six “alternate” members.

While Ganapathi is party general secretary, the permanent members include Mallojula K Rao, Cherukuri Raja Kumkar, Prashanth Bose, Nambala Keshavarao, Pramod Mishra, Sumanand Singh, Katakam Sudershan, Akhilesh Yadav and Balraj. Each has a responsibility with respect to ‘military’ operations, intelligence, propaganda, training, documentation, budget and procurement of arms and ammunition.

Officials believe that most of them might have even been taking shelter in urban areas with the help of unarmed sympathizers whose number could be anywhere between 50,000 and 70,000 across the country.

“Disclosures made by Besra about the leadership will now at least help us launch our efforts in the right direction as he gave us feature-wise details of the commanders and politburo members,” said an official.

Though the politburo is the top decision-making body, lower cadres are being managed by regional bureaus, zonal/state committees, district/division committees and squad area committees. The basic armed unit, called dalam, has eight to 10 guerrillas trained in using landmines and launching surprise attacks.

While extortion from contractors, miners, tendu leaf traders and other forest produce, including ivory and sandalwood merchants/smugglers, is a basic means of finance, arms and ammunition are usually looted from the police. Besides, they procure explosives, mainly gelatine sticks, from contractors in mining areas.

A particular politburo member, Pramod Mishra of Aurangabad, Bihar, was made operational in-charge of New Delhi during the 9th congress of the Maoists. In the congress, held in the forests of Bheemband in Bihar for 10 days last year, it was decided to put one urban combat team specifically to identify targets in Delhi and Haryana. Ganapathi is the man who heads the CPI (Maoist) and its armed wing, People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA), having nearly 11,000 armed cadres spread over as many as 13 states.

He is certainly not the only one who runs such a huge ‘army’. There are nearly 100 others who are part of the Naxalite command structure with their central committee comprising a team of 14 dedicated full-time politburo members.

Security and intelligence agencies, however, do not exactly know where Ganapathi or others live and operate from. They found out from Besra that the top leaders shift their bases depending upon their own intelligence.
Besra has hinted at locations which encompass dense forest areas of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar (along the Nepal border), AP, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Abujmad in Chhattisgarh, the Palamau-Chatra belt in Jharkhand and the dense Dandakaranya forests in north Telengana region of AP are, however, considered the three main hideouts.
vishwa.mohan@timesgroup.com

September 5, 2009

Naxalism – threat to unified nation of India – 4

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