The recent expose of The Times of India group on the allotment of homes meant for the Kargil and war widows to Bureaucrats, Army Generals and Politicians is just what people in power should ideally never do – i.e. misuse their privileges to enrich themselves. ‘Adarsh’ means ‘An Ideal’ and the Adarsh Housing Society was reportedly meant to be a six-storey structure to house Kargil war heroes and widows. The perfect harmony of politicians, defence officials and others resulted in a 31-storey structure and the question now is where are the Kargil martyrs in the allottees? Just three on the list say some reports. It’s a tragedy that in their greed to amass wealth for themselves, they have not even spared the families of those who gave their today for our tomorrow.
This is neither the first nor the last among the seemingly endless series of scams that seems to be hogging the headlines. Keep in mind there are plenty of scams which have yet to be unearthed. New scams ensure old scams are forgotten. CWG scam now has fallen off the map.
I watched with great Interest the Times Now expose in which Arnab Goswami had a panel discussion - it was enlightening to see how different parties played this out. The Congress media manager smartly linked the issue to intelligence failure during BJP regime, which caused Kargil war, thus washing hands of the Congress Ministers involved. Na rahta baas, na bajti bansuri – seemed to be his line of thinking. In fact, Ms Kiran Bedi, who certainly knows how the system functions, raised a valid point - how can investigations start unless someone files a FIR? Even if one wants to lodge a FIR, which police station would accept it?
Two decades ago, Rajiv Gandhi’s government was brought down by the Bofors scam which involved an amount of Rs. 64 crore. We have now reached a state where a Rs. 64 cr scam will not draw any attention from the media and investigating agencies.
The sad part is that over the last few decades, many institutions of India have crumbled. The Army was one last institution which the ‘aam admi’ would have liked to believe runs honorably. Sadly, even the army has had its share of scandals. Besides, arms deal kickbacks, posting favors and now the Adarsh Housing Society scam, our valiant soldiers who risk their lives for the country are fed sub-standard food and doled out stuff which has passed their expiry date.
The Army is sitting on a huge ‘land bank’ in market parlance. Thousands of crores of prime property across the country belong to the army. Visit any city or town, prime locations are either for cantonment or Army residences. Sooner or later the land mafia would spread their tentacles to grab them. This is just the tip of the iceberg and in the coming years you will see much bigger scams coming out as the men in uniform may be tempted to release the land.
Historically, battles between countries have been fought for productive land, and given the way, land prices are rising in India, we might have an internal war for acquiring land. The surplus land owned by the army is best transparently sold rather than a gradual leak to unscrupulous elements who manage to grab it at throwaway prices. The Government of India should consider auctioning surplus land in a transparent manner and give it to the best bidder akin to the NTC mill auctions. Use the surplus generated to invest in defence because we are surrounded by hostile neighbours.
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