The BMC has been ignoring rules to keep successive Standing Committee chairmen happy by buying them expensive new cars with your money; four new cars were bought in four years in Rahul Shewale’s tenure alone
While you dodge potholes, face water shortages and wonder why precious little is being done to make things better, the BMC has been busy buying its Standing Committee chairman a swanky new car every year, with your money.
Current Standing Committee chairman Yashodhar Phanse will no longer have to travel in this Scorpio as he will be getting a spanking new one this week.
In the past six years, the civic body has bought six new cars for the Standing Committee chairman — an average of one car every year — despite a state government rule clearly stating that a government car should be phased out only after it is 10 years old and has run for 2.40 lakh km.
And, with five sedans and an SUV, these are not your entry-level cars either. The six cars on the list are Mahindra Logan, Tata Manza, Fiat Lenia, Maruti Swift Dzire, Toyota Etios and now a Mahindra Scorpio.
The car being used by Yashodhar Phanse currently and (inset) former Standing Committee Chairman Rahul Shewale
According to information accessed by mid-day, the cars have been changed very quickly since 2008, and most of them were bought during the tenure of Standing Committee Chairman Rahul Shewale, who took over in 2010 and gave up the post after being elected a Member of Parliament this year. Four cars were bought for him in his four years in office and an official said he got the Swift Dzire changed in just six months, claiming he “did not like it”.
New man, new car
The last car used by Shewale was the Etios, which cost Rs 5.5 lakh. It was damaged earlier this year and has been in a garage since April. His successor, the current chairman Yashodhar Phanse, has been using a Mahindra Scorpio which was purchased in 2007 and has clocked around 1.5 lakh km.
Despite the car not meeting the 10-year or 2.5 lakh-km criteria, the BMC has bought a shiny new Scorpio for Phanse, which has set it back by R8 lakh and is expected to be handed over to him this week. Interestingly, the Scorpio was bought for the chairman without tabling a proposal in front of his own committee. BMC rules state that any proposal worth more than Rs 5 lakh should be sent to the Standing Committee for approval.
Opposition leader in BMC Devendra Amberkar said, “The civic body is giving special treatment to the Standing Committee chairman because the people holding the post have been from the ruling party. A rule is a rule and should be followed by everyone. There are so many citizens’ issues that the BMC can focus on, but the Shiv Sena seems to be giving buying cars the most importance.”
Activist Nikhil Desai also slammed the BMC. “This is an absolute waste of public money. The money spent on purchasing these cars could have been used for building toilets. The BMC commissioner should set proper rules for purchasing the cars and public representatives should use public transport,” he said.
Milind Mhaske from Praja Foundation said, “The corporation should give an allowance to chairmen instead of providing cars. Why should we waste so much public money on these things? Politicians and officers should car pool.”
Not so lucky
BMC’s Ward officers have been using the same cars for the past seven years. The same is true also of the chairmen of the Markets and Garden and Women and Child committees, who have been using Mahindra Logans purchased in 2007.
Opposition Leader Devendra Amberkar said, “In 2007, the BMC had purchased Mahindra Scorpios for ward officers and deputy municipal commissioners. These officers have been using the same car for seven years, but the Standing Committee chairman has got six cars in six years.”
The other side
Standing Committee Chairman Yashodhar Phanse said, “I don’t know about the BMC giving six cars in six
years to the Standing Committee chairman. My current car is seven years old and it has broken down many times. Even when I was the leader of the house, I was using an old car. I have not got the new car yet.”
Chief Engineer (Solid Waste Management Department) Siraj Ansari said, “The Standing Committee Chairman had written a letter two months back about his current car’s bad condition and asked for a new car. The current Scorpio is old so we have purchased a new car for him. The earlier Toyota Etios was damaged in March and was sent for repairs after that. The cars break down frequently due to excessive running.”
When he was asked about the BMC’s generosity in giving a new car every year to the Standing Committee chairman, Ansari said, “I will have to check the facts with my officers and only then will I be able to comment on this.”
Despite repeated attempts, Rahul Shewale was not available for comment.