There’s nothing official about Mayor Sunil Prabhu and his team’s ‘study trip’ to Singapore, which MiD Day reported about yesterday (‘While Mumbai sinks, BMC top bosses gallivant abroad’), says Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The government of the Southeast Asian city-state had organised World Cities Summit Mayors Forum 2012 on the occasion of International Water Week, from July 1 to 5.
Though Sunil Prabhu and the other corporators were invited, BMC says the outing was unofficial, so the excursionists have had to spend out of their own pockets.
Municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte confirmed this. “BMC will not bear the cost of their tour as they went privately,” he said.
It is necessary to obtain prior permission from the state urban development department (UDD) and union external affairs ministry before leaving the country for a formal international conference or seminar.
“Going ‘unofficially’ would not be a good practice, but unfortunately this has started in the past seven or eight years. If government delays the permit, the delegates – the mayor and his team in this case – just fly off,” said a senior civic official on condition of anonymity.
“Normally, the state UDD takes two weeks while the centre takes three to four weeks to permit a mayor to go out of the country. But this time, they
didn’t try to acquire permission,” the official added.
A citizen activist also expressed the opinion that Sunil Prabhu has set a bad precedent for future mayors and should apologise for his
“As a mayor he should have followed proper procedure to attend the international conference. And if he did not get permission from the government, he should have cancelled the visit,” said GR Vora.
Prabhu was not alone. Tagging along on the foreign trip were Dnyanraj Nikam (Congress, opposition leader in BMC), Yashodhar Phanse (Shiv Sena, leader of the House in BMC), Rahul Shewale (Shiv Sena, standing committee chairman), Dilip Patel (BJP), Dhananjay Pisal (NCP) and Rais Shaikh (SP). They were yet to return to the city when reports last came in.