Phatak distances self from Adarsh scam
The apex investigation agency had registered an FIR in the scam on January 29.
Mumbai: Former BMC commissioner Jairaj Phatak distanced himself from the multi-crore Adarsh scam on Thursday, saying the high-rise committee of the civic body had already approved the building's height at 103 metres.
"When I gave my approval for 100.7 metres, I did not feel the need to refer the matter to the high rise committee again," said Phatak, a 1978 batch IAS officer.
The CBI has alleged in its FIR filed on January 29 that Phatak, during his tenure as BMC commissioner, had approved the height of the building to be increased from 97 metres to 107 metres on September 1, 2007.
Phatak was the head of the committee looking after high rise buildings in Mumbai and the CBI alleged that he had not referred the height increase to other committee members.
"The committee is just an advisory body and the final decision is taken by the commissioner. Whatever I have done is within the ambit of law", the former BMC Commissioner said.
Phatak, who is at present posted as an Additional Secretary in the Union Power ministry, said he was not with the municipal corporation when his son Kanishka was allotted a flat in the Colaba highrise.
"My son had applied in 2003 and got the (allotment) number only in 2004. I was not in BMC then," he said.
Kanishka is among the 103 members who owned an apartment in Adarsh Society in Mumbai's upmarket Colaba area. On June 7, 2003, he applied for membership to the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society, which was approved by the district collector on August 24, 2004. At the time of approval, Phatak was School Education Secretary. He was Commissioner of BMC from May 2007 to October 2009.
On the issue of granting permission to raise height of the building, Phatak said the high-rise committee had already granted permission to raise the height and there was "no need" to resubmit the file.
Phatak's remarks came a day after CBI raided his premises in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune in connection with his role in the Adarash scam.
The apex investigation agency had registered an FIR in the scam on January 29. Phatak was named in the list of the people awaiting sanction for prosecution as he was a joint secretary rank officer for which the agency needed to take permission from the Centre.
Speaking on ownership of the plot on which the high rise was constructed, Phatak said, "the land belongs to government (state)".
"It says so clearly in the 1991 development plan of the city. Kargil war happened in 1999. How the land could be then reserved by the Army for war victims and their families," he said.
About owning five flats, four in Mumbai and one in Pune, the former BMC commissioner said his father owned some ancestral land in Yavatmal.
"Every time I purchased a flat, I informed the government about it and have "shown" it in the immovable properties return form," he said.
Phatak said he and his family had taken a loan to purchase the flats, one each in Vanashree society and Sai Prasad society in Mumbai, and is still paying the instalments every month to clear the dues.
"CBI claims to have found incriminating documents from my residences. I am not aware of this. As far as my knowledge goes, all files pertaining to Adarsh are with BMC. I do not have any files", the IAS officer said adding that he is ready
to co-operate with the CBI investigations.
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