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BMCs operation clean-up

By Sudhir Suryawanshi and Geeta Desai
Posted On Saturday, March 13, 2010 at 03:35:06 AM (
Following allegations of corruption made by a corporator against a top Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) official in a house meeting on Thursday, an operation is underway to delete the remarks from municipal records.

R A Rajeev

On Thursday, when the house met for a General Body meeting, NCP corporator and group leader Niyaz Wanu alleged that Additional Municipal Commissioner (City) R A Rajeev was “misusing” his discretionary powers to allot tenders for road repairs to his favourite contractors.

He alleged this was being done without the approval of the Standing Committee, a statutory body consisting of corporators across political parties. He also alleged that Rajeev was using the services of BMC contractors to build an opulent farmhouse at Badlapur, near Kalyan.

Sources said Rajeev was in his official cabin when Wanu made these comments. When a person attending the meeting told him about the charges, the IAS officer, who is second in rank to the municipal commissioner, rushed to Mayor Shraddha Jadhav’s office to get the unflattering remarks about him deleted from the minutes of the meeting.

Soon, the junior bureaucracy at the BMC headquarters was at work, trying to undo the damage. Journalists who covered the meeting were told that the mayor had asked Wanu to withdraw the “personal attack” against Rajeev.

When Wanu learnt of this message, he asked the BMC chief public relations officer to issue a clarification that he was doing no such thing. According to Municipal Secretary Mrudul Joshi, the remarks are still on record. “I am yet to receive the copy of the minutes of the meetings. We will decide whether to delete the allegations made against Rajeev while editing them,” she said.

NCP corporator Niyaz Wanu
Pic: Deepak Turbhekar

When contacted, Rajeev told Mirror, “The mayor has asked Niyaz Wanu to withdraw his statements made at the corporation meeting.

She told me that Wanu left early from a meeting on Friday, otherwise she would’ve told him already. She has assured me that they will be expunged from the records.”

But Wanu said, “Nothing should be deleted. I have spoken on record at the general body meeting and it should be remain on record. No one should distort the facts.”

At the meeting on Thursday Wanu had alleged that the corrupt system that awards contracts for road repairs had totally ignored honest contractors. He claimed Rajeev’s favoured contractors were awarded the job and variations were later made to ensure that they got more money than what they had quoted during the original bidding process.

“We need to find out who gets the money from this deal. Honest citizens are paying taxes but some roads are never repaired. Even if they are repaired, the work is done very badly,” Wanu told Mumbai Mirror.

Wanu also said that BMC had purchased three jetpatchers – machines to repair damaged roads – at a cost of more than Rs 1 crore each, which he alleged Rajeev had given to contractors for free. The BMC now hires these machines from the contractors for a fee and pays Rs 60 lakh for maintenance when, he said, it was the contractors who were supposed to spend on their upkeep.

Questions were also raised about the source of funds for Rajeev’s farmhouse. Wanu has asked Municipal Commissioner Swadhin Kshatriya to set up an enquiry committee to investigate Rajeev’s official income and how he is “manipulating the civic system” to favour a particular road contractor.

When asked about his Badlapur farmhouse, Rajeev said the government had all the details, including the cost details and the completion certificate.

About the jetpatcher machines, he said, “Wanu was present at the standing committee meeting when the proposal was cleared and is conveniently forgetting that. His allegations are baseless and motivated. The BMC did not meet his irrational and illegal demands, so he is desperate and frustrated.”

Wanu counter-alleged, saying, “I have exposed Rajeev in front of everyone, so he is hitting out against me.”