BMC engineers shy away from telling 'home truths'

This endeavour by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to bring in more transparency was engineered to fail from the outset because of the disinclination of its employees.

Chief engineer Rajeev Kunknur is one of the 27 employees from the development plan department who have provided no information on their property holdings

MiD DAY has learnt that a letter issued by the municipal commissioner’s office to the chief engineer (development plan) last year (and reissued in May 2013), categorically stated that it was obligatory for all engineers above grade B to submit their property details to the civic body, so the information could be made available on the BMC portal.

Officers failing to do so would not get their salary from November 2012 till the time they complied, the order said. However, an RTI reply has revealed that 27 engineers from the DP department never disclosed the particulars. Surprisingly, the names include the top three of the department that is chief engineer Rajeev Kunknur, and deputy chief engineers R Balachandran and SV Gajargaonkar.

The errant employees didn’t provide details for 2011-12 or for 2012-13. In all, about 70 engineers from the department were expected to come clean. The data sheet, in which the engineers were to submit the information, included sections on full address of the property, area of the flat in square metres, price of the plot, construction cost, amount borrowed as home loan, and whether or not permission was taken from the municipal commissioner before buying the property.

When this reporter visited the DP office, Kunknur wasn’t available. But, his deputy, Balachandran, claimed that he wasn’t aware of the matter, and maintained that to the best of his knowledge he had supplied the details. When told that the RTI reply said otherwise, he pleaded ignorance.  Kiran Achrekar, deputy municipal commissioner of BMC’s general administration department, stated that his office had put up all the information it had received on the civic body’s website. While the senior officials didn’t provide any information, many other engineers had complied half-heartedly. 

For instance, sub-engineer Ifthekar Ansari had supplied his address, but no other details, except the area of the house. He hasn’t divulged the price of the plot, construction cost, and whether or not he had sought the commissioner’s consent before buying the house. Another sub-engineer, Shruti Narvekar, had only mentioned in her form that she owned a flat measuring 371 square metres in Tilak Nagar, Kurla (E). She gave no other details on where her home was located, or the building name. She, however, did declare that she had taken Rs 19 lakh as home loan for the property. No one in BMC could give us information on whether or not the salaries of the errant officers had been withheld.

Coming clean
Details sought from the engineers:
Full address of the property
Area of the flat in square metres
Price of the plot
Construction cost
Amount borrowed as home loan
Whether or not permission was taken from the municipal commissioner before purchasing the property 

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