The Adarsh who’s who

Adarsh society
Three former Army officers, a retired defence estates officer, two bureaucrats and a politician were arrested for the Adarsh scam this week. Here's the motley bunch, profiled by Shalini Nair

T K Kaul

The retired major general, 65, was General Officer Commanding, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa Area, in 2000. Between 2001-05, he was conferred several peace-time medals. Kaul now lives in Colaba and along with his wife runs Tricolour Consultants, a security and risk management firm, from the Arcade at the World Trade Centre at Cuffe Parade. In addition to being a head-hunter for retired armed forces officials for corporate jobs, Kaul also provided security solutions for banks, hotels and the Shirdi Sai Baba temple, and conducted threat perception surveys for various cricket tournaments in Mumbai. In 2003, Kaul, who owns a flat in Adarsh, allegedly misrepresented facts in reply to a Lok Sabha question, saying the land was under the occupation of the Army. According to the CBI FIR, "He also deliberately did not take action on the request letter of Defence Estate Office for revocation of the purported NOC... as he was one of the members of the society."

P V Deshmukh

He has been charged with deliberately misrepresenting a routine letter from the Ministry of Environment and Forests as environmental sanction for the project. Deshmukh, who owns a flat in Adarsh, was at that time a deputy secretary in the Urban Development Department. In March 2003, he wrote to the civic authorities telling them that the project had got a no-objection certificate from the MoEF. He also signed a letter reducing the width of the road abutting Adarsh from 60m to 18m, a move that allowed more space to the society.

R C Thakur

In 1994 Thakur, the chief promoter of Adarsh Society, started scouting for land in Colaba. A subdivisional officer in the Defence Estates Office, Thakur had thorough information on defence land records. Four years later, he zeroed in on a 10,000sq m plot (C-600) in Colaba. At that time, Thakur was under investigation by the CBI in a defence land grab case, from which he was later exonerated. Along with Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, Thakur made a request for the land which was turned down as it fell in the highly-sensitive CRZ I. He then requested the government for another plot (No 656 in block 6), just 500m from C-600, with the stated purpose of constructing a six-storey building for Kargil war veterans and widows. His position helped him get a swift approval letter stating that the land in question fell outside the defence boundary and belonged to the Government of Maharashtra.

Pradeep Vyas

The suspended finance secretary is a 1989 batch IAS officer. He was the collector of Mumbai City when the land was allotted to Adarsh Society in July 2004. It was he who ratified the first list of 71 members in Adarsh, allegedly after accepting false documents as income proof. The members' list included his wife Seema Vyas, an IAS officer herself. He has also been accused of misleading Parliament when questioned about the land allotment.

Kanhaiyalal Gidwani

After futile attempts for four years, Thakur and retired brigadier M M Wanchoo allegedly decided to join hands with Gidwani, then a Sena legislator. He had the political connections necessary to get permissions. The deal was reportedly that Gidwani would bring in 40 per cent of the society members. In his statement before the Adarsh judicial commission, Gidwani claimed it was on his insistence that then CM Narayan Rane sent a letter to the Centre to reclassify the CRZ 1 C-600 plot. After the request was turned down by the Centre, he got speedy permissions for the other plot. He switched to the Congress in 2005 and later became an MLC and the official party spokesperson until his recent suspension. Gidwani owns three flats in the society, one in his name and two in those of his sons.

A R Kumar

The major general was an officer of the 1 Gorkha Rifles and the GOC of the Maharashtra and Gujarat Area, preceding Kaul, in 2000 when the Adarsh episode started. Heading the area, he initiated and approved the file and issued a no-objection certificate to the Collector of Mumbai for development of a residential building on the plot. His son, a commander in the Navy, was allotted a flat in the society. The officer has since retired and had settled in Hyderabad.

Madan Mohan Wanchoo

The retired brigadier, now 76, was the commandant of NCC Officers Training Academy in Kamptee, near Nagpur, in the 1980s. Thakur was then an SDO in Kamptee cantonment. The two went on to become the main promoters of the Adarsh Society. Wanchoo, its secretary, and Thakur signed a letter addressed to then revenue minister Ashok Chavan, saying the society was willing to accommodate 19 civilian members and 31 from the defence services, and asking the minister's help "to accommodate and reward our Heroes of Kargil operation who bravely fought at Kargil to protect our Motherland".

—With inputs by Manu Pubby

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