This is no city for honest officers. Taking strong action against illegal activities in Aarey Milk Colony has proved costly for Gajanan Raut, who now stands stripped of his powers as administrative CEO of the area. Local residents and activists, however, have now come out in support of the ousted officer and demand that he be reinstated as the chief.
Less than two years ago, Raut took over the twin duties of Aarey CEO and Dairy Development Officer (responsible for managing the Aarey dairy units). As mid-day had reported last year, Raut was quick to take action against the illegal slums mushrooming in Aarey Colony, and he organised a demolition drive to remove the encroachment (‘Illegal shanties at Aarey Colony demolished’, May 15, 2015). He also took action against illegal hooch dens that were operating in Aarey, which had gone ignored by the authorities until then.
Sources said the erstwhile Aarey CEO was removed following pressure from local politicians who were not happy with his demolition drives. Nor were they pleased that he had restricted the entry of vehicles to the internal private roads of Aarey to improve safety and prevent illicit activities. On Friday, a notification from the state government declared that he would henceforth only execute his duties as the dairy officer. Natu Rathod, a dairy development officer from Nashik, has replaced Raut as CEO.
Upset over the removal of an upright officer, the locals have taken to social media to express their objections to the move. Campaigns have started on Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter to demand that Raut be brought back. Some residents are signing online petitions to reverse the ouster of Raut, while others have personally tweeted to CM Devendra Fadnavis to express their concerns.
One of the protestors, Imran U, a local resident, said, “There have many CEOs who have come and gone, but none of them had the guts to take action like the way Raut did against illegal structures and hutments that were being constructed in Aarey by slum and land mafia. He never succumbed to pressure and this doesn’t seem to have gone down well with politicians, so he has been transferred abruptly.”
Two years’ work
>> Demolition drive against slums in Aarey
>> Action against hooch dens
>> Action against illegal dumping
>> Encouraged and led tree plantation drives
>> Cleanliness drives