India

CAG Criticises Environment and Forests Ministry in Adarsh Housing Society Scam

BeyondHeadlines Staff Reporter

New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) severely criticised the role of the Union Environment and Forests Ministry in the Adarsh Housing Society scam. It accused the ministry for sending ambivalent communication to the Maharashtra Government, allowing it to interpret orders and give an illegal clearance to the housing society.

The ministry has been hauled up for willfully skirting procedures and failing to ensure legal compliance while giving permission for the construction of the Adarsh Housing Society.

The CAG, in its report, which was released on Tuesday, noted that the illegal environmental nod given to the society was “facilitated by the letter of the ministry of environment and forests, which abdicated its responsibility regarding environmental clearance of such buildings in the coastal regulatory zone area”.

When asked for a no-objection certificate (NoC) by P V Deshmukh, deputy secretary in the Urban Development Department of the Maharashtra Government, a joint director-level official of the Environment Ministry, A Senthil Vel, did not clearly state that the building required a green clearance . Instead, he said that the state-level authorities have been entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that the housing complex be built as per the rules of coastal regulatory zone II. Deshmukh cited this communication as the Centre’s NoC.

CAG notes that the then Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and principal secretary to the chief minister personally went through the correspondence between Deshmukh and Vel.

The report records that the environment ministry’s communication created adequate context to allow the state government to interpret the letter as a ‘no objection’ to the project, and use it as an environmental clearance from the ministry.

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