BMC chief gives wings, then clips them

Ajoy Me­hta cur­tails pow­ers of des­ig­nated of­fi­cers ap­pointed to curb il­le­gal con­struc­tion and en­croach­ment af­ter mul­ti­ple com­plaints of them en­gag­ing in cor­rupt prac­tices

Mid Day - - City - CHETNA YERUNKAR chetna.yerunkar@mid-day.com

THE civic chief’s de­ci­sion of giv­ing pow­ers to Des­ig­nated Of­fi­cers (DOs) of lo­cal wards, for taking ac­tion against ir­reg­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, seems to have been un­wise. Af­ter sev­eral com­plaints from ac­tivists and cit­i­zens over th­ese DOs en­gag­ing in cor­rupt prac­tices, Bri­han­mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Com­mis­sioner (BMC) com­mis­sioner Ajoy Me­hta wants them to take due con­cur­rence from Build­ing Pro­posal depart­ment’s ex­ec­u­tive engi­neers be­fore is­su­ing any stop-work no­tices.

For trans­parency

BMC had car­ried out var­i­ous re­forms in the work­ing of sev­eral of its de­part­ments about two years back, fol­low­ing the road and SWD scams. The Re­moval of En­croach­ment depart­ment, too, had tightened its op­er­a­tions by is­su­ing a circular and in­sist­ing that all 24 wards act on it se­ri­ously. The circular had di­rected that a re­port of DOs’ per­for­mance should be sub­mit­ted to City Engi­neer (depart­ment re­spon­si­ble for pro­mo­tion or trans­fer of engi­neers), warn­ing that a neg­a­tive re­port could af­fect their growth in the civic body.

The BMC was also in the process of mak­ing pro­vi­sions that would au­tho­rise DOs across 24 wards to take ac­tion against ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties even on non-civic

‘The civic chief has di­rected the ward of­fi­cials and deputy com­mis­sion­ers to en­sure that the DOs don’t di­rectly is­sue no­tices be­fore taking con­cur­rence from the con­cerned ex­ec­u­tive engi­neers of the Build­ing Pro­posal depart­ment’

land in the city. Civic of­fi­cials did not have the author­ity to carry out in­spec­tions on col­lec­tor’s land or in slum ar­eas, be­cause of which many il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties took place there.

How­ever, amidst all this, just two years later, Me­hta, in a re­view meet­ing held last week, said the stop-work no­tices is­sued by the DOs need to be ver­i­fied by the Build­ing Pro­posal depart­ment.

Of­fi­cial­s­peak

A civic official not wish­ing to be named said, “This was done for trans­parency and to leave no chance for any cor­rup­tion. Even now, the DOs check the plans of the build­ing be­fore is­su­ing any stop-work no­tice, but there are a few com­plaints that they also threaten to is­sue no­tices in or­der to ex­tract money.”

An­other civic official present in the meet­ing re­it­er­ated, “The civic chief has di­rected the ward of­fi­cials and deputy com­mis­sion­ers to en­sure that the DOs don’t di­rectly is­sue no­tices be­fore taking con­cur­rence from the con­cerned ex­ec­u­tive engi­neers of the Build­ing Pro­posal depart­ment.”

It has been al­leged that the des­ig­nated of­fi­cers have been threat­en­ing to is­sue show-cause no­tices to own­ers of some struc­tures to ex­tract money. A civic official

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