A report by Southern Army Commander Lt Gen. Pradeep Khanna has called for a probe into what it calls the “illegal sale and transfer” of prime land in Mumbai on rent with the Army to a private builder, Neo-Pharma, part of the Kalpataru group.
The report says the Maharashtra government sold the land after the “intervention” of then Union Defence Production Minister Rao Inderjit Singh and then Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor.
The report, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, calls for the “entire matter (to be) investigated at the appropriate level since it involves the then Minister (and) ex-Army chief,” besides civilians and the state government.
The matter is now with Defence Minister A K Antony. Army Headquarters is said to be in favour of a CBI probe.
The land — an acre belonging to the state government in Kandivili, Mumbai — had been on rent with the Central Ordnance Depot since 1942.
The inquiry report says that the land could not have been transferred without permission from the Ministry of Defence, which gave no such sanction.
But Neo-Pharma says that the Collector had written to all neighbouring plot owners, including Defence authorities, twice, asking whether they had any objections. On failing to get a response, the Collector approved the sale and transfer of the land to Kalpataru.
The plot is now home to Kalpataru Towers, in which about 400 residents live.
The key points of Lt Gen. Khanna’s report sent to Army Chief Gen. V K Singh on November 22, 2010:
Approximately 5166.5 square m (1 acre) of defence land was sold by the Maharashtra government for a housing project to M/s Neo-Pharma Private Limited/Kalpataru Properties Private Limited for Rs 5.94 crore.
Its “custody” was relinquished by the Central Ordnance Depot, Mumbai, on orders of then General Officer Commanding, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa area and the Army Chief during June 2007-May 2008.
The land (identified as City Survey Number CTS 135 and 136 of Survey 13) is part of 13.28 acres hired from the state government since 1942 at a rent of Rs 529.94 per year paid by the Defence Estates Officer, Mumbai.
The adjacent land, CTS 134, is owned by M/s Neo Pharma Pvt Limited and developed by Kalpataru Properties.
The two plots, under the Ordnance Depot, were sold to the property developer by an “ex-parte decision” by the state government on June 26, 2007. However, the local area headquarters and ordnance depot objected to this illegal sale and took action to physically protect the property.
Then Minister for Defence Production Rao Inderjit Singh and Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor “intervened in the matter and the firm was allowed to take possession of the plots in May 2008.”
Correspondence on the subject indicates that Southern Army Command actively assisted in implementing the order through written directions on January 21, 2008.
“It can be presumed that Major General R K Hooda, the then GOC of MG &G area (also named in the Adarsh Housing Society scam) was a beneficiary as his son acquired a flat from M/s Kalpataru Builders.”
As per records attached to Lt Gen Khanna’s report, on November 15, 2007, Abhilaksh Likhi, then private secretary to Rao Inderjit Singh, wrote to then Army chief’s office on the issue with a note that justified the sale of the land.
Rao Inderjit Singh was Defence Production Minister during 2006-2009 and General Deepak Kapoor was the Army Chief from September 30, 2007 to March 31, 2010. (with inputs from Shalini Nair, Mumbai)
-via Indian Express