NEW DELHI: The parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC) has once again slammed the government for both its failure to fix responsibility and take action against officials who violated rules in the infamous Adarsh housing society scandal as well as plug loopholes in defence land management and environmental regulations.
The stinging PAC observations come close after the TOI on July 9 reported that a new high-level defence ministry inquiry had blamed several top military and defence estates officers, including former Army chiefs Generals N C Vij and Deepak Kapoor, for various acts of omission and commission in allowing the illegal construction of the 31-storey Adarsh building in the tony Colaba area of Mumbai.
“The committee is shocked to note the MoD’s action taken report is silent about the action initiated against the group of officials who held key posts in the ministry and violated rules and regulations, committing unpardonable irregularities under the ruse of welfare of servicemen, war widows and children,” said the PAC report, tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.
“The MoD must fix responsibility of the erring officials, award exemplary punishment to them and apprise the committee accordingly within four months,” added the PAC, which had castigated the MoD and Maharashtra government for “monumental failure at all levels of governance” in its original report on the Adarsh scam submitted in December 2013.
As was reported by TOI, the MoD inquiry has also sought “appropriate administrative measures” against Generals Vij (2002-2005) and Kapoor (2007-2010), three Lieutenant Generals, four Major Generals and others, who were allotted flats in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society (ACHS) and allowed the towering building to come up as a major security threat next to crucial defence installations in the Coloba military station.
The MoD inquiry, while holding disciplinary action against the top military officers may not be possible three years after their retirement under the Army Act, asked the government to “convey displeasure” and debar them from any future employment or contract with the government, or any of its bodies and committees.
The PAC, on its part, also expressed “dismay” over MoD’s “miserable failure” to accomplish the physical survey, clear demarcation and proper verification of its land around the country, “leaving enough scope for irregularities and alienation of its land in an arbitrary and collusive manner”.
With the MoD being one of the country’s largest landowners with as much as 17.3 lakh acre under its control, the PAC reiterated there was an urgent need to “implement transparency in allotment of government land and eliminate unwarranted discretion”.
It said the MoD’s action taken report was also “devoid of the action” taken against “delinquent officials” of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority for “dereliction of duty in not detecting serious environmental violation by the ACHS”.
Similarly, MoD was “silent” on the disciplinary action taken against the “erring officials” on the basis of the Patil inquiry commission set up by the Maharashtra government to look into the Adarsh scandal.
“The committee is constrained to note that the action taken reply furnished by the environment ministry through the MoD is silent on the measures taken to plug the loopholes in the acts/rules/notifications for efficient forest conservation and environmental safeguards across the country,” said the PAC.
Source: Times Of India