CM Devendra Fadnavis asks BMC chief to probe graft in nullah cleaning work
In a move to corner the Shiv Sena, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered a probe by Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta into the allegations of corruption in the cleaning of nullahs in Mumbai. The Sena controls the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in which the BJP is a minor ruling partner with the Sena.
The Congress MLAs in the Legistative Assembly demanded a probe accusing the Sena-controlled civic body of misappropriating Rs 150 crore that was spent on the nullah-cleaning work ahead of the monsoon. File pic
The announcement came in the Legislative Assembly after Congress MLAs Kalidas Kolambkar, Vijay Wadettiwar, Amin Patel and others raised a demand for a probe through a calling attention motion. The legislators accused the Sena-controlled body of misappropriating Rs 150 crore that was spent on the nullah-cleaning work ahead of the monsoon.
They said that the BMC’s claim that the city would not suffer from waterlogging this rainy season was hollow, because Mumbaikars had to go through the difficulties that they face every year.
Digging up the dirt
The legislators questioned the de-silting work of all nullahs in the city and suburbs, the Mithi river and the measures taken to prevent waterlogging in low-lying areas. Fadnavis denied that the BMC had spent Rs 150 crore on the work. He said the total bill so far was just Rs 84 crore. The CM said that a deputy commissioner was already probing the allegations that were levelled by local corporators.
But when the demand became vociferous, he said that the municipal commissioner would not only supervise the said probe but also take a personal interest in the investigations into the allegations. However, he rejected a demand for forming a special investigation team (SIT) by Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil.
The announcement is politically significant, because local BJP leaders have been sparring with the Sena over the issue for long. Recently, Mumbai BJP President Ashish Shelar had questioned Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray in the matters related to rainwater clogging the drains.
Sena hits back
Immediately after the Mumbai issue was raised, Sena legislators Rajesh Kshirsagar and former Mumbai mayor Suresh Prabhu grilled the CM over the investigations into the rape case at Jalna in central Maharashtra.
They said the law and order machinery, controlled by the Home department was receiving flak from everywhere, especially in the goof-up in a particular case, in which a rape victim was used as bait to nab the culprits.
“The (girl) victim was raped again when she was used as a bait because the police team did not work properly,” Kshirsagar told mid-day.
Kshirsagar and Prabhu repeatedly accused the Home department of a poor show and asked the CM to suspend Jalna’s Police Superintendent Jyoti Priya Singh, who they said had a bad service record. They accused the officer of creating a drunken brawl in Hyderabad during her training days and framing politicians in false cases in various districts of Maharashtra where she has served earlier.
Fadnavis lost his temper when the legislators kept repeating their demand. “As per the rule I assume whatever you said here is true, and based on that I will ask an additional director general of police to probe the matter in one month. But I will not suspend the officer because we need to follow a certain process for suspending any IPS officer,” he said.