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Scientists in housing scam

Bangalore, April 2: After doctors were caught cheating at an examination, scientists working on the prestigious light combat aircraft ' Tejas ' programme face allegations of perpetrating a housing scam on colleagues.

Nine Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) employees, including six scientists involved in Tejas, have been served non-bailable arrest warrants by a court. All nine are absconding and Bangalore police have been told by the ADA that they are on leave.

The chargesheet alleges that the group of nine and three real estate developers had collected Rs 3.3 crore from ADA employees promising them sites in 1999-2000. But with land value rising phenomenally, the board members of the housing society and the developers colluded and tried to sell the sites at a higher price to outsiders. The scam came to light after newspaper advertisements offered the same sites for Rs 690 a sq ft while the ADA employees had already paid Rs 150 a sq ft.

Based on a complaint by an employee, George Verghese, the police registered cases under sections 409 (forgery by a government employee), 420 (cheating), 465, 468, 471 (using forged documents as genuine) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.

The accused are Mukund Rao, the ADA administrative manager who is president of the Shree Venkateshwara House Building Cooperative Society, scientists V. Krishna Prasad, T. Chockalingam, H. Narasimha Murthy, J.V. Kamesh, P. Santhosham and P. Bhanumathi and two officers, C.V. Surendra and H.N. Prabhakara.

As the Karnataka government had banned housing societies from 1985, the group took over the defunct Shree Venkateshwara House Building Cooperative Society and operated using its name from the ADA office.

Investigation revealed that the society’s board persuaded the Bangalore Development Authority to approve the project as all its 160 members were employees of the defence ministry.

The probe also found that the society was run without the knowledge of the registrar of Karnataka Cooperative Societies. The police allege that the society members authorised the developers to make the plan for the housing project. Both sides operated multiple bank accounts, which enabled them to offer and sell the same sites at a much higher price to outsiders four years later.

It has now come to light that the office-bearers of the society and the developers had also diverted the society’s funds.

Senior ADA officials did not want to go on record and sought to distance themselves from the scam. “It is a personal matter between employees. It has nothing to do with the ADA,” they said.

They did not have an answer when asked why the nine employees were not suspended according to the rules.

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