PAC slams government for gross mismanagement of defence land [%new%]
News Courtesy: Rajat Pandit, TNN | Dec 9, 2013
NEW DELHI: From “gross misuse” of golf courses to “monumental failure at all levels of governance” in the infamous Adarsh scam, the parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC) on Monday slammed the Union defence ministry, Maharashtra government and armed forces for abject mismanagement of defence land.
In two reports tabled in Parliament on Monday, the PAC demanded “appropriate remedial actions to ward off incidents” like the Adarsh housing scandal in Mumbai as well as asked the MoD – the country’s largest landowner with 17.3 lakh acre under its control — to hold an inquiry into prohibited activities on defence land.
“A group of select officials holding key posts subverted rules and regulations” in the Adarsh scam, “suppressed facts and took the ruse of welfare of servicemen, war widows and children in cornering the prime piece of public land in Mumbai”, said the PAC.
“Irregularities” were committed by “certain officials who abused their official positions for personal gains” in the entire process right from the allocation of land to the Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society and grant of ‘no objection certificates’ (NOCs) to the extension of various concessions by the Maharashtra government and clearance for residential development in the coastal regulation zone (CRZ).
The PAC deplored the “cavalier manner” in which serious security concerns were ignored to allow the construction of the 31-storey Adarsh building, which overlooked the Colaba military station.
Even the CBI, which filed the chargesheet against 13 accused in July 2012 after registering the case in January 2011, was pulled up for its “tardy pace” of investigation. “Considering the fact that glaring irregularities were committed by men in governance, the committee exhorts the CBI to expedite its investigation,” it said.
Turning to “unauthorised use” of defence land for golf and other activities, the PAC said it was “shocked” to find defence authorities were offering membership of the golf courses to civilians and foreign diplomats, and the revenue being so generated was not being credited to government accounts.
As reported by TOI earlier, over half of the around 180 golf courses in India are either owned or run by the armed forces. But since the “Scales of Accommodation” for defence services do not include golf as “an authorised activity on military recreation grounds’, they are regularly pulled up for it in CAG reports.
The PAC said the entire policy on the golf courses should be “revisited comprehensively” with “appropriate remedial action” being taken to ensure “recreational facilities needed for the armed forces are not misused/abused in any manner”.
It also asked MoD to submit “a status paper” on the golf courses and environmental parks used by the military and the nature of their membership as well as the annual revenues generated through them and the accounts where they are credited