India Insight

War homes scandal rocks Mumbai ahead of Obama trip

November 2, 2010

High-rise buildings are seen behind a slum in Mumbai April 28, 2009. REUTERS/Arko Datta/Files
Corruption charges are swirling over a new apartment block in an upscale Mumbai district where homes meant for war widows have gone cheaply to politicians and military officers, embarrassing India’s ruling Congress party.

The scandal has broken out days before U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in the city.

When first mooted, Adarsh Housing Society in Mumbai’s tony Colaba area was supposed to be a six-storey building to house widows and heroes of a military conflict in Kargil bordering Pakistan in 1999.

But in its place has come up a 31-storey luxury apartment building, and most of the owners of its 103 apartments are top politicians, bureaucrats, federal ministers, two retired army chiefs and a former navy chief.

Some Indian media said three of the allottees were linked to the Kargil conflict.

Once the scandal was reported in Indian media last week, more news of what was described as violations of norms emerged, including ignoring of environmental clearance for the building in a neighbourhood by the Arabian Sea that is among the most expensive of real estates in the world.

Questions are also being asked about how land was transferred to the society and various government clearances granted.

Congress’ Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, the top elected politician in Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is capital, offered to resign last week after media reports said his mother-in-law and other relatives had been allotted apartments in the building.

Underlining the scandal’s potential for damage, Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, the country’s most powerful politician, has weighed in to the scandal, asking the defence and finance ministers to investigate any wrongdoing.

Gandhi has still not accepted Chavan’s resignation. At least two other former Maharashtra chief ministers’ names have also emerged in connection with the scandal.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony is expected to submit a report soon. The occupation certificates for the owners have been cancelled. Each apartment has been sold for as little as $130,000 while Indian media have estimated their value at $1.8 million apiece.

“Since the defence minister is … a person known for his probity, we should wait for the report to come out,” a Congress official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “We will not shield any one who is found guilty.

Indian opposition parties have asked for investigations to find out how building plans were tweaked and who authorised the changes.

They have called for the resignation of Chavan’s government (see video below) and said the Congress had failed to check corruption, pointing to last month’s Commonwealth Games marred by allegations of graft and incompetence.

Comments
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Ah! Corruption in India is imbued in the blood of the Indians what is wrong with it. Sorry may be with an exception of the congress party chief but ….. Some say that her position is ‘In the land of blind One eyed lady is the sole example of honesty in India’ sounds excellent is not it?.

Moreover, an emerging economical power the citizens should be billionaires otherwise how would the Prime Minister introduce his country to outside world that India is an emerging economical power.

How very cleverly they selected the scandalous spot to show to the President to narrate the story of Gilget fight with Pakistan and poison the ears of the President against Pakistan. This is where God plays his role of Justice with people of vicious intents.

There is another scandal in India a fly over has collapsed due to the honesty of its builders. May be President’s in and out routes are carefully surveyed and selected with no overhead bridge and flyovers in advance by his security force..

The time is fast approaching when world will see how an emerging economical power merges with dust and vanishes. This is what perhaps will culminate into, just wait and see. It is because it India is politically unstable country with states wanting to breadth air of freedom and many are subjugated for much to long under Hindu class system wants to break way.

Last of all is India made too many regional enemies by flexing its muscles and these unhappy lots are under the shelter of the silent Dragon the worst enemy of the so called the emerging Economical Power of Asia after China..

Hope India successfully briefs the President about Pakistan with honey mixed flattery.

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