As an assistant engineer working in the Solid Waste Management (SWM) department of the BMC’s D ward, R D Narvankar moves in circles that almost never intersect that of Area Traffic Control (ATC), a section falling squarely under the ambit of the BMC’s road department. Back in 2009, however, the official who deals in waste management was sent all the way to Barcelona in Spain, where he spent five days at a training programme designed exclusively for those who are involved in ATC.
A subsequent audit conducted the following year revealed that not only was Narvankar’s designation distorted so he could attend the programme on foreign shores, he extended his stay for a good 11 days after its conclusion, only to come back and sign the attendance register for all the days that he had been gone.
The matter came to light on Friday when MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande wrote a letter to additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani, pointing out the violations mentioned in the audit report and alleging that Narvankar had been deputed for training so he could enjoy a holiday at the corporation’s cost. “The BMC should take action against the official who recommended Narvankar’s name for the training,” said Deshpande.
Still no enquiry
Even though years have passed since the auditor’s report recommended that an enquiry be conducted to find out who had pulled the strings to send Narvankar abroad, the civic administration has looked the other way, no enquiry has been ordered on the matter.
The audit note clearly mentions that Narvankar was sent for an ATC training programme even though his department is not even remotely concerned with traffic signalling. Five engineers attended the programme, of which all officials barring Narvankar hail from departments related to the traffic control. PJ Ghorade (AE), Vijay Mistry (sub-engineer) BS Kubal (junior engineer), Prashant Jadhav (junior engineer) are all from the road department and so could apply their training in the dispensation of their duties.
The company Televent Trafico-CMS had organised the system maintenance and management training programme in the country of its origin, Spain, in a joint venture with the civic body. The air travel expense was borne by the company while contingent expenses were borne by the BMC. The BMC had sanctioned Rs 3.38 lakh for the programme.
The municipal auditor stated in his report that after receiving training in area traffic control, Ghorade has been working in the same SWM department as before his trip, which means that he has not applied the training he received in any scope or fashion. Moreover, he was passed off as an assistant engineer of the mechanical and engineering department in the proposal that deputed him for the training.
The auditor also observed that Narvankar returned to Mumbai on July 21, 2009 even though the training programme was wrapped up on July 10 – the civic employee stayed back for a good 11 days, perhaps holidaying in the Catalonian capital. The auditor was even more shocked to find Narvankar’s signature on the attendance muster right upto July 21, even though he had been abroad on training for the duration.
Narvankar is set to retire from service on June 30 this year. A circular DPAR/FGR/17 from 1996 points out that the officer who is deputed for any kind of training should be able to serve the corporation for a minimum of five years after the stint. In Narvankar’s case, the man will only have served the civic body for less than four years after the training. The auditor points out that the BMC will not be able to benefit from the knowledge obtained by him in his training. Based on this surmise, the auditor held the expenditure incurred for his training as irregular, and recommended an enquiry.
D ward is popularly known as the VIP ward, since the residences of the chief minister and his cabinet, as well as sundry properties and residences of the city’s financial elite are located in this ward. The ward spreads over places like Nana Chowk, Girgaum and Malabar Hill.
The Other Side
Meanwhile, Narvankar justified his presence at the training programme, saying, “Apart from the SWM department, all island city assistant engineers handle work of the maintenance and engineering department. So I look after maintenance of signals. That’s why I participated in the training programme.”
Additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani said, “I received the letter from the MNS and I will take initial information in this matter. If something seems fishy, we will initiate an inquiry.”