Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Saturday, 30 October 2010

From Today's Papers - 30 Oct 2010

Adarsh Housing Scam Probe hints at criminal conspiracy Involvement of Army,
Navy officers not ruled out by MoD investigation
Tribune News Service New Delhi, October 29 An investigation by the Ministry
of Defence has "prima facie" found a "criminal conspiracy" in the
scam-tainted Adarsh housing project, Mumbai, in which the involvement of a
few officers of the Army and the Navy at some stage has not been ruled out.
Notably, the land where the society has come up was meant for the
construction of a hostel for the daughters of serving officers. However, the
Ministry was yet to study if any of the beneficiaries among the forces
reflected their prime acquisitions ― worth crores in the open market ― in
their annual property returns. Not only former chiefs, middle-level officers
in the rank of Lt Colonel of the Army or Lt Commander of the Navy were on
the list. Some below officer ranks of the Navy, too, were beneficiaries.
Each flat's cost was around Rs 70 lakh and the allottees were required to
show their source of income and the property had to be shown while filing
returns, as mandated by the government rules. Valued at some Rs 500 crore,
the land is located in posh Colaba area of south Mumbai ― was in "de
facto" possession of the Army, sources pointed out while making it clear
that they do not have access to the revenue records of Maharashtra. Listing
out the details, sources said the land had a chequered past. In the late
1940s, the Maharashtra government ― under British Rule then ― wanted land
that was in the possession of the Army in Santa Cruz for an expressway and
in lieu the state was to give equal land or its market value in Colaba.
During that period, there was some construction of the Army on this very
land in Colaba. In 1964, the Collector of Mumbai wrote to the Defence
authorities, saying "Colaba land cannot be given (to the Army)", says
internal reports of the Ministry. In 1996, an eco park was inaugurated by
the DG infantry. A boundary wall was also constructed by the MES and the
Army was in a way "having control over the land". It was only in 2003
that the Defence Estates wrote to the Collector saying "the Army interests
were superior to any other". However, a NoC was issued to the builder. The
Ministry is trying to ascertain who cleared the NoC. The other angle is the
security issue ― to see if the building was a risk to the high-value
security assets on the coast.

BRO looks to private sector for support Airlifting men, material to remote

Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service Chandigarh, October 29 With the Air Force
unable to provide adequate airlift support to the Border Roads Organisation
(BRO) to ferry men and equipment to remote areas, the BRO is looking at
outsourcing its requirements to civilian aviation companies.
Directorate-General, Border Roads, is in the process of finalising a
contract with public sector helicopter operator Pawan Hans for leasing at
least two medium-lift helicopters to meet its operational commitments. The
Ministry of Defence has also suggested that the BRO tap private sector in
this regard. Prevailing geo-political situation in India's neighbourhood
and the infrastructural development being undertaken by some neighbours
close to borders have given rise to the need to develop an effective road
and communication network in the border areas. At present, the IAF is sole
organisation providing rotary wing airlift facilities to the BRO. Against a
demand for airlift of about 4,000 tonne of load by helicopter for the year
2010-11 by the BRO, the IAF has been able to allocate a task of only about
900 tonne. According to available figures, the BRO had placed a requisition
order of 1,250 tonne till July this year, out of which just 142 tonne or 11
per cent, was airlifted. The BRO has projected a demand for at least five
helicopters this year in addition to the facilities the air force is already
giving it, failing which its projects would suffer. The BRO is responsible
for the construction and maintenance of strategic roads in the country's
border regions and the development of vital infrastructure in remote areas
can be attributed to it. The BRO has been consistently allotted air effort
much less that its requirements as the IAF does not has the requisite rotary
wing assets to meet the demands of agencies like the BRO. The situation is
expected to ease somewhat once the proposed 80 medium-lift helicopters being
procured by the IAF begin to arrive. Besides routine air maintenance to the
mountainous frontiers in the northern and eastern sectors and other
operational tasks, the IAF is also committed to meet certain requirements
for the civilian populace of Jammu and Kashmir and some northeastern states.
It is now also being roped in for anti-naxal operations that constrained the
withdrawal of its helicopters deployed overseas on the UN peacekeeping
missions. Keeping in view the long-term requirements, the Border Roads
Development Board is also mulling the option of the BRO procuring its own
helicopters, which could be maintained and operated by Pawan Hans, but
dedicated to meet the BRO's operational requirements.
Chinese Premier to visit in Dec Ruchika M. Khanna In Hanoi
Tribune News Service PM may meet Hillary Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is
likely to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Hanoi on Saturday on
the sidelines of the East Asia Summit. October 29 Chinese Prime Minister
Wen Jiabao would be visiting India, possibly in the third week of December
to resolve outstanding issues that are bedevilling the relationship between
the two countries. Announcing this during the meeting with Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh, the Chinese premier hoped that both sides will be able to
"reach a consensus on some major aspects so as to lay a foundation for the
visit". This announcement by the Chinese premier set the mood for the
meeting between the two leaders, especially in the backdrop of the uneasy
relationship between the two countries. It also opened the scope for a
full-fledged dialogue between the two sides on all core issues. Recognising
the importance to cooperate and coexistence so ás to grow together, Wen
said to Manmohan Singh, "You have said on many occasions that there is
enough space in the world for India and China to achieve common development.
On top of your remarks, I add that there is enough space in the world for
India and China to cooperate". During the meeting, both the prime
ministers resolved to achieve a consensus on all core issues, including the
boundary dispute, China's shift in the Kashmir policy (issuing of stapled
visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir and its engagement in PoK), before
Wen visits India later this year. The leaders instructed their Special
Representatives and other senior officials to prepare for Wen's visit and
work for solution to these issues. The Special Representatives from both
sides are expected to meet in Beijing by November end in preparation for the
Wen's visit. In addition, Zhou Yong Kang, a member of the standing
committee of the Politburo in China, is also expected to come to India next
week and call on Manmohan Singh to discuss these 'core issues'. National
Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon said that during the bilateral talks
between the two countries, that lasted for 45 minutes here this morning, the
two leaders discussed a range of international issues where both countries
have similar views. "Both sides recalled their work together on the issue
of climate change in Copenhagen in 2009, besides issues like counter
terrorism, disaster management, energy cooperation and food security," he
said, adding that the meeting between the two leaders was warm, fruitful and
covered the entire gamut of relations between the two countries. "Both the
leaders took a broader view of the strategic relationship by discussing the
specifics in this relationship. They spoke of sensitivities to each others'
core issues, and determination to carry the relationship forward. While
discussing the boundary dispute between the two countries, both sides said
that they look forward on early resolution of the issue. They agreed that
there is need to carry forward the process on the parameters of the
agreement signed in 2005, as the guiding principle on resolving the issue,"
he said, adding that the frequent number of visits between the political
leadership on both sides during this 60th year of our diplomatic
relationship with China, has helped in cementing the strategic relations.
Menon also said that the two sides also held discussions on trade relations
between the two countries. "The Chinese premier said that he was conscious
of the imbalance in trade between the two countries and the progress being
made after the Joint Economic Group meeting of India and China.
Indian troops on UN mission repulse attack, kill 8 rebels
Express news service Posted online: Sat Oct 30 2010, 00:55 hrs New Delhi :
Months after three Indian soldiers were killed when their UN outpost in
Congo was attacked by Mayi Mayi rebels, an Indian unit posted in the same
region has repulsed an attack on its post and has killed eight rebels. No
Indian soldiers were injured. While the Army released details now, the
attack took place on Monday night when about 40 rebels armed with assault
rifles and other weapons came dangerously close to the UN peacekeeping base
in Rwinidi, 140 km north of Goma in North Kivu province. "Despite repeated
warnings from Indian troops, the rebels continued their advance towards the
base, opening fire on peacekeepers and trying to enter the company premises
from different directions," an Army officer said. Indian troops retaliated
in self defence and repelled the attack as per the rules of engagement in UN
missions. "The ensuing clash lasted nearly 20 minutes. Eight of the rebel
cadres were killed in the incident," the officer said. While the other
rebels fled from the spot, the troops recovered two AK-47 assault rifles,
three magazines, ammunition, three machetes, hand grenades and explosives.

Adarsh Society land scam: Defence sniffs criminal conspiracy
DNA / Rajshri Mehta / Friday, October 29, 2010 19:30 IST A probe ordered by
defence minister AK Antony has prima facie found a "criminal conspiracy"
in the way the controversial Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society in Colaba
has come up. The society has several former and serving service chiefs and
bureaucrats as members. The probe has also "not ruled out"' collusion of
local military officers with the promoters of the housing society, sources
said on Friday. Defence ministry officials admitted the army had been in
"de-facto" possession of the prime 6,490 sq mt plot of land for over 60
years before the high-rise came up. The possession was established based on
the report sent by the defence estate officer (DEO) referring to past
correspondence of the land being with the army. It is learnt that the DEO
has pointed out that the state government prepared a property card of the
disputed land as their own only in 2007. "The town planning department
carried out a survey only in 2003 and gave the plot a CTS no, 652, in 2004.
If a development plan of Backbay Reclamation was prepared, why were the
plots not numbered, or importantly, the property card not prepared by the
government,'' questioned a senior officer. Ministry sources said the
question of whether the society sought or obtained any no-objection
certificate from the military for the high-rise had also not come out
clearly. The Indian Army, represented by the general officer commanding
(Maharashtra Gujarat and Goa), is learnt to have echoed the views of the
DEO. Meanwhile, former army generals NC Vij and Deepak Kapoor and former
navy chief Madhavendra Singh have said they will return the flats if the
building had violated any promise of providing flats to the kin of Kargil

Criminal conspiracy in Mumbai highrise, Army officers could be involved:
Defence probe Agencies

Posted online: Fri Oct 29 2010, 21:31 hrs New Delhi : A Defence Ministry
probe has "prima facie" found a "criminal conspiracy" in the controversial
Adarsh Housing Society project in Mumbai, where several former service
chiefs, politicians and bureaucrats were allegedly given flats at throwaway
prices. The probe, ordered by Defence Minister A K Antony this week, has
also "not ruled out" the collusion of some officers with the highrise
promoters, sources said here on Friday. "In fact, prima facie there appears
to be a criminal conspiracy (in the Adarsh Society controversy). But in all
these things, we are not ruling out the collusion of some (military)
officers at the ground level (in letting the construction come up)," the
sources said here. The Defence Ministry, they said, is determined that all
those guilty of wrongdoing in the episode are not spared and a decision on
the matter will be taken within 10 days before Parliament's winter session
begins on November 9. Defence Ministry sources said there were some loose
ends in the case such as the ownership of the land, apart from seeking and
obtaining no-objection certificates for the construction of the highrise,
though the Army had been in "de facto" possession of the prime 6,490-sq mt
plot of land in upscale Colaba for over 60 years before the 31-storey Adarsh
Society highrise came up there in 2003. The probe is also convinced that
the building posed a major security concern, as spelt out by Western Naval
Commander Vice Admiral Sanjeev Bhasin in his July 2010 letter seeking action
against the building, the promoters and the officers involved in overlooking
the construction itself since 2003. "On the question of security
implications of the highrise building, certainly there is a problem over
there... an issue of security in this building because it overlooks many
military installations over there," the sources added. The probe was
ordered by the Defence Minister this week and the ministry had sought
reports on the controversy and its past background from the Army, Navy and
the Defence Estates. While the Army and the Defence Estates Directorate
submitted their reports, the Navy was yet to do so, sources said. Former
Army chiefs Generals N C Vij and Deepak Kapoor, ex-Navy chief Admiral
Madhavendra Singh, former Army Vice Chief Lt Gen Shantanu Chowdhary, former
Union Minister and Shiv Sena MP Suresh Prabhu are among those who have been
allotted flats in the building that came up with a promise to provide
residential apartments to widows and dependents of 1999 Kargil war martyrs.
The controversy, which has been brewing since the construction began on the
land in 2003, resurfaced this week after the Navy took exception to the
Maharashtra government according permission for Occupation Certificate to
the building that has come up in an area under the control of the Navy's
base in Colaba. The Navy had once again flagged the security concerns posed
by the 100-metre tall building in the aftermath of the 2008 November terror
attack on the city through the sea route, Navy sources said here. In his
letter to the Defence Ministry and the Army, Vice Admiral Bhasin had said
that despite repeated intimations to various concerned departments of
Maharashtra government to not issue a 'No Objection Certificate' or an
'Occupation Certificate (OC)', it came to notice that the Mumbai
Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) had issued an OC to Adarsh
Society building. The building next to a planned helipad and military
installations is also believed to have violated the Coastal Regulatory Zone
(CRZ) II limit of a height of 30 metres. On the history of the land itself,
the Defence Ministry probe found that the Maharashtra government had in the
late 1940s sought 40 acres of land from the Santa Cruz firing range for its
Western Expressway. But the military had laid the condition that the state
government should give it land of an equivalent size or the market value of
the land in Colaba. However, this condition was not fully complied with by
the state administration, the sources said. In 1964, the then Bombay
collector had said the Colaba land could not be given to the Army. But since
the 1940s, the Army had made constructions on the land, where the Adarsh
Housing Society has now come up. In 1996, the Army's Director General of
Infantry had inaugurated an Ecological Park in the area and a boundary wall
was erected by the Military Engineering Service around that land.
Accordingly, the Army used the land for carrying out its training and
exercises of its troops. "Effectively, what it means is that the land was in
de facto possession of the Army for long," the Defence Ministry sources
said, but added that the ownership, whether of military or civil
administration, had not come out clearly yet under its probe. In 2003, the
Defence Ministry "had heard" about some civilian construction coming up on
the said land and at that time, the Defence Estates Director General wrote
to the the Collector that "the Army's interests over the land is superior to
any other constituent's". Defence Ministry sources said the question of
whether the Society sought or obtained any no-objection certificate from the
military for the high rise construction had also not come out clearly under
its probe yet. "Now, the ministry is trying to ascertain the facts and fill
those gaps. However, a letter written by the Society mentions that the
military had agreed to the construction of a girls' hostel on the land for
the wards of its officers serving offsite," the sources said. Asked if the
Defence Ministry or the Naval establishment in Mumbai would have security
concerns with other highrises in the Colaba area, the sources said, "Though
it is true that similar buildings existed in the locality, we have to take
these issues seriously." Asked if some serving officers too have been
allotted flats in Adarsh Society and if they had declared the property in
their annual submissions, the sources said officers, who have not made the
declaration, would face severe action under the existing rules.

5 relatives of Chavan got flats in society
Mumbai October 29, 2010 A day after it came to light that Maharashtra Chief
Minister Ashok Chavan's mother-in-law was among the allottees in the Colaba
property scam, now more of his relatives' names have figured in the list of
beneficiaries. Latest revelations show that four more of Chavan's
relatives have been allotted flats in the controversial property Adarsh
Cooperative Housing Society in Mumbai's Colaba locality. Those awarded
flats in the society include the chief minister's father S.B. Chavan
(allotment number 91) along with other relatives Seema Vinod Sharma (No-73),
Madanlal Milkiram Sharma (No-101) and Jagdish Ambika Prasad Sharma (No-74).
Earlier, name of Chavan's mother-in-law Bhagwati Manoharlal Sharma
(allotment number 90) had emerged as one of the flat owners in the society.
She died in July this year. Chavan evaded questions on the matter as
Headlines Today approached him for his clarification on Friday. After the
Indian Armed Forces, of which many serving and retired officers secured
flats in the high-rise, the scam is now turning out to be a major
embarrassment for the Congress as more details emerge on the high profile
people. Chavan's role has been under cloud, particularly after revelations
that he insisted on accommodating civilians in the list of beneficiaries.
Adarsh society had written a letter agreeing to Chavan's demand to
accommodate 40 per cent civilians. He was the state's revenue minister at
that time. There were ominous signs for the chief minister with the
Congress making it clear that the guilty would not be spared. In New Delhi,
party spokesperson Manish Tewari said Defence Minister A.K. Antony has
already promised a probe and those found breaching norms would be punished.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been investigating the matter
even as the army is conducting an internal probe after the names of its top
brass figured in the scam. The apartment was developed reportedly on an
army-owned plot which was meant for Kargil war heroes and widows.

A crisis of confidence in Indian army
* At stake, the army's IzzatRated 2↑ 0↓ (2 Votes) * Army's image
on the declineRated
Rahul Bedi. An alarming rise in the number of Indian military officers
charged with corruption, senior ranks quitting due to frustrating service
conditions, and increasing instances of 'fragging' in which disgruntled
soldiers shoot dead their seniors, are severely damaging the image of the
country's defence forces. Few want to join the once-favoured military with
the shortage of officers in the army never having fallen below 11,000 for
over a decade against a sanctioned strength of 46,615 personnel. The navy
and the air force too face officer shortage but it is not as severe as in
the 1.2 million strong army. Senior defence officials cite expanding
employment opportunities as the reason behind the shortage. But serving and
retired officers say this is only part of the cause. The Services too have
to take responsibility for lowering the military's image and overall
standing in the country's order of precedence and preference, they point
out. "Standards and values have changed for the worse and the army is not
impervious to the overall environment," admits a retired Lieutenant
General. Like the rest of society, India's military too is in the turbulent
and unsettling throes of transition, he adds. Serving army officers say the
'rot' in service ethics has been steadily creeping into the Services. Till
the 1980s, military officers were considered upright men, respected in
society and eagerly sought after by parents as suitable match for their
daughters. Retired military men talk nostalgically of the days when a mere
note from the commanding officer on behalf of a jawan to the local
authorities back in his village carried weight. Those were the times when
the esprit d' corps in the apolitical service was strong and invitations to
riotous, albeit swinging, regimental officers' messes were much sought
after. Salaries were low but the lifestyle was lavish in what was largely a
gentleman's army. Many officers were, in reality, eager boys trapped
inside adult bodies seeking to indulge in passions like shikar, riding, polo
and outdoor living and danger at state expense as expansive colonial
traditions made military service not only respectable but attractive. From
Independence till the third war with Pakistan in 1971, there was ample
opportunity for such expansiveness. And it was adequately vindicated,
except for the disastrous 1962 war with China in which India came off badly.
But in this instance, it was widely acknowledged that it was the political
and not the military establishment that forced ignominy upon the country.
The flamboyance, bravery and tactical brilliance of all ranks in the three
wars with Pakistan are well recorded and the subject of study in combat
institutions around the world. It is rarely acknowledged even at home that
in 1971, the Indian army single-handedly achieved what even the United
States with all its mite and technical wizardry has not managed since World
War II ― it liberated a nation. Politics was rarely, if at all, discussed
by officers who, if passed over for promotion, retired gracefully, confident
of their status in society. Promotions, the bane of the Services today, were
merit-based and, by and large, fair with undeserving candidates, adhering to
the Peter Principle and rarely ever crossing their limits of incompetence.
Army chiefs and senior commanders brooked no political interference in
operational matters and were listened to with respect by the establishment.
Asked by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to move into East Pakistan ― later
Bangladesh ― in early 1971, General Sam Manekshaw ― later Field Marshal ―
firmly told her that it would take at least 10 months before his force would
be ready for combat. "That" he declared, referring to Indira Gandhi's
scheme of launching operations earlier "would present me with problems far
more complex than what had been the bane of the German general staff for
more than 50 years across two world wars. It would be unwise to rely on
diplomatic assurances that the Chinese would not react in support of
Pakistan. We must wait for the snow to block the northern passes." Indira
Gandhi listened and Bangladesh came into being in December that year. In
short, the olive green uniform enjoyed an exalted status it was soon to
lose. Its professionalism and apolitical stance began to slowly unravel
after the Third Pay Commission in the late 1970s when officer ranks were
diluted, ostensibly to enhance career prospects, but their responsibilities
reduced in inverse proportion to their promotions. Periodic cadre reviews
further led to a lopsided rank structure creating a situation where
Lieutenant Generals among the seniormost army officers, and their
equivalents in the navy and the air force, discharged duties previously
performed by middle-ranking Colonels and half-colonels and similar ranks in
the other two services. Currently there are over 900 Brigadiers, some 290
Major Generals and 85-odd Lieutenant Generals, roughly around a third of who
were replaced every two-three years due to retirement, promotion and other
reasons. Pressure on promotions in the pyramid-like structure also meant
that most served between 12-18 months in these higher ranks leaving them
little time to effect any meaningful change in the overall command and
control structure. The cadre re-assessment was the moment for which
politicians and civil servants had long been waiting. Having always looked
upon the military with suspicion after independence and gazing nervously at
Pakistan's experience, they were simply waiting for an opportunity to gain
ascendancy over the Services. Incidentally, this inherent misgiving and
fear of the military persists, adversely manifesting itself in the
non-appointment of a Chief of Defence staff, despite ministerial commissions
and review and parliamentary committees stressing the need for such an
officer in a nuclear weapon state and for an expanding military power with
possible out-of-area responsibilities. Sadly, many senior officers actively
contributed to this negative state of affairs by seeking political and
bureaucratic patronage for career enhancement whilst in service and for
lucrative sinecures after retirement. Consequently, over years the
military's standing deteriorated, reaching the unbelievable stage where it
was selectively included in the "security loop." The Service chiefs, for
instance, were told about the multiple 1998 Shakti tests at Pokhran just
hours before they occurred; and that too as insurance against any "adverse
reaction" from neighbouring Pakistan. In the intervening period thereafter,
the military has been dealt a limited hand in maintaining India's strategic
deterrence. In another shocker, the military, particularly the army, was
also unaware of India's cache of chemical weapons stored at various Defence
Research and Development Organisation laboratories across the country that
were destroyed under the global Chemicals Weapon Convention some years ago.
In conclusion, a large number of military officers concur that India's
Mughal-like army, with an inordinately high teeth-to-tail ratio, faces a
serious crisis of confidence which simply refuses to abate even as it is
increasingly employed not only in counter-insurgency operations, flood and
drought relief but also to battle mosquitoes threatening the Commonwealth
Games athletes' village. For, besides struggling against the slew of
corruption charges, lopsided promotions and un-equitable pensions, the
military also faces ad hoc equipping policies determined and dominated by
ill-informed politicians and civil servants, as it grapples desperately to
reorder and modernise itself within a nuclear weapon state. But that, as
they say, is a far longer and complex saga.

Forget sick father, army more important, major told
The Armed Forces Tribunal on Tuesday dismissed the plea of an UAV specialist
Army major, who wanted to quit the Army to take care of his ailing father.
The tribunal said army personnel resignation is not in national interest.
"Since Major Sumit Sharma is a specialized officer in particular branch ―
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operations) ― which is already running short
of officers… we do not think proper to interfere in this matter as the
national interest has higher priority than any other priority," said the
tribunal bench headed by Justice A K Mathur and Lt Gen M L Naidu.
Sharma approached the tribunal seeking directions to the Army to accept his
resignation with immediate effect and relieve him with all the benefits from
Service as he had to look after his ailing father. After the death of his
mother in 2007, the officer had submitted his resignation which was also
The Army had opposed the resignation of the officer saying Sharma had
received specialist UAV training as an observer in 2006 for Israeli-made UAV
systems and was suitably employed as per his training. It had said that
there was an acute shortage of officers in the Regiment of Artillery and the
criticality was more profound for specialist officers.
The tribunal said "Since his services are indispensable to the Army because
of his specialised training, therefore, we are not inclined to interfere in
the matter,"
The officer, posted at Jammu, had contended that his application for
compassionate posting to New Delhi to look after his sick parents, was
rejected by his own Unit.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal