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
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.
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.
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