Ordnance depot land sale: Top General moots CBI probe

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Mumbai, Jan 15 (PTI) A top Army General has recommendedto the Defence Ministry that the CBI probe the sale of aone-acre prime plot in suburban Malad, leased by the Army fromthe Maharashtra government, which in turn sold it to a firmfloated by a leading builder.

"The ordnance depot land was on hire with us. There wasno reason why this land should have been sold to a builderunless we had cleared it," Lt Gen Pradeep Khanna, GOC-in-CSouthern Command, said.

"We found this out sometime back after a detailedinquiry. My recommendation to the Ministry has been that thecase should be handed over to CBI," General Khanna toldreporters after an investiture ceremony in Colaba area here.

The land was occupied by the Central Ordnance Depot (COD)since 1942. In 2007, the state government sold the land toNeo-Pharma Pvt Ltd, a part of the Kalpataru Builders group,for about Rs 6 crore without army''s consent.

On the Adarsh housing scam, the General said, "TheSouthern Command has done its inquiry. We did an internalfresh research on this piece of land. We went back to the mapsof 1844 when Colaba was just an island and it was called amilitary island."

"All this land belonged to the defence forces. It wasnot a part of the reclamation. This search has been given tothe CBI which is doing an inquiry. I have read in media thatthey (CBI) have accepted our new research," he said.

Action will be taken against all people who have donewrong in the matter, he said. The Ministry of Defence is fullyin the picture and it will be ensured that anyone who has donewrong will be brought to book, he said. .

"There are a lot of people involved. So, CBI is the best agency which can go into the details and bring the culprits tobook," Lt Gen Khanna said.

"It is the cantonments where these things happen...We aredigitising everything. So that, once and for all, in a year orso, this problem gets over, which is the main issue," he said.

Asked if defence officials have misused their powers,leading to the Adarsh scam, he said, "I will not use the wordmisuse, but yes, encroachements have been done, sometimes withknowledge, sometimes without knowledge (of officials).

On counter claims on defence land at Lohgaon nearPune, he said, "The land was with us since 1918 and after thecounterclaims the case has been given to CBI."

One Harish Malani is trying to claim the land, hesaid. Malani earlier said he acquired it from one Kevin Pintobut now says Pinto doesn''t exist, he pointed out.

Earlier, the general presented 22 Sena Medals(gallantry), 10 Sena Medals (distingusihed service), 15Vishisht Seva Medals and 18 Unit citations to various winners,at the investiture ceremony, held on the occasion of the 63rdArmy Day today.

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