A Chembur-based tabela owner has alleged that he is being subjected to needless harassment by civic authorities at the behest of a civil contractor who allegedly enjoys the patronage of BMC Commissioner Subodh Kumar. Narendra Kumar Pratapnarayan Singh (49) says that the contractor wants to usurp his 800 sq m land, on behalf of the civic chief, who, in turn, is compelling his subordinates at ward level (M-East ward is where the stable is located) to harass him in several ways.
Singh owns the cowshed at Aziz Baugh, RC Marg, Chembur since 1964. “For the past eight months, BMC officials have been trying to book me for some or the other violation, but they cannot find anything amiss in the shed. They admit that there is no breach, but that they are under pressure from superiors to act against me. This continual harassment troubles me no end,” said Singh.
Various departments of BMC have sent Singh 29 notices (copies with MiD DAY) since June 2011, alleging violations in his byre. On June 9, 2011 alone, BMC sent him six notices. Later that year, on October 25, he got four notices, and another three on October 31. Citing an instance of his persecution, Singh said that BMC officials have demolished a 1960-built well, essential to the working of the cowshed, twice.
Singh swears that there are no irregularities in his byre, and that officials already know that. But they are only pawns, and if they do not crack down on him, they, in turn, have to bear official oppression. He said. “If any official fails to take action against my cowshed, his superiors in the ward office threaten him that he would be sent to explain himself in front of Subodh Kumar.”
In the same boat
Dilip Tambe, an officer from the BMC’s nuisance department, was allegedly forcibly deputed for three days in front of the cowshed to take action. Since Tambe found no fault in the tabela, he did not take any action. But he suffered for his discretion. MiD DAY is in possession of an audio conversation between Tambe and the cowshed owner in which the officer accepts that the department suspended him for three days for refraining to take action.
Tambe said, “If there is no nuisance, what action can I possibly take? But the ward officer suspended me for three days.” On Nov 1, 2011, a pest control officer (PCO) wrote a letter (copy with MiD DAY) to the assistant pest control officer, which reads, “The deputy municipal commissioner (DMC, M-East) asked me to take action in any condition, or else he would send me to the commissioner.” On Nov 28, 2011, a medical health officer wrote (copy with MiD DAY) to the assistant health officer, stating, “The DMC had called a meeting of all departments (MOH, PCO, AEFB, AEM and AEWW) concerned, and asked them to take action and report compliance.”
According to Singh, when he asked officials why they have been outspoken against their superiors, they said, “There is nothing wrong with your shed. We know you’ll go to court to seek justice and we’ll get implicated. That’s why we have mentioned that we have been taking action due to pressure from superiors.” On March 19, the contractor allegedly sent some goons to assault Singh in the presence of BMC officials. Singh has registered an FIR in the RCF police station. “I am helpless. I don’t know what to do, nor do I understand why they are doing this. If BMC officers are involved in this scam, what can I do?” said Singh.
The other side
Opposition leader in BMC Gyanraj Nikam said, “If you have proof and BMC officials are persecuting him, it’s wrong. But they are misusing the commissioner’s name. I will write to him to seek details.” Despite repeated attempts, Subodh Kumar was not available for comment. He disconnected our calls and did not reply to our text messages. Public relations officer (PRO) Vijay Khabale refused to make any comment.