Mumbai Diary: Wednesday whispers

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

Porch or a Faraari?
Huge amounts spent on repairing and renovating ministers’ official residences and offices have always been questioned. And a minister of state from the Bharatiya Janata Party seems to have discovered the reason for such escalations and cost overruns.

The minister used his experience in construction business to catch officials from the Public Works Department off guard when they presented him a budget of Rs 26 lakh for renovating his official bungalow. He pointed out to them serious discrepancies in the budget and questioned the cost, which according to him could be brought down to half.

When he compared the rates quoted in the budget with prevailing market rates, the engineers struggled to offer him a proper explanation. As the minister told mid-day the other day, “The engineers did not turn up with a revised budget for many days despite several reminders from my office.”

We hear that ultimately, the cost of the renovation was reduced significantly but the engineers managed to outwit the minister by dismantling the porch of the bungalow! And reconstruction of the porch, we are told, will eat up a major portion of the approved budget. Smaaart...

Pat on this carpenter’s back
Sometimes, one does not need grand accolades. Just a simple acknowledgement of a job well done is enough. And for Subhash Patil, who works in the Central Railway’s Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) car shed as a carpenter, a brief letter was what did it. Patil was one of the crew who worked on the recently-introduced Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) rakes on the Diva-Vasai and Diva-Roha routes.

One of the converted rakes
One of the converted rakes

The rakes were actually formerly outstation mail trains, and were modified - for example, the toilets were removed to make additional standing room for commuters. Patil’s work was noticed and he received a letter from Vikas Dashputra, Sr Coaching Depot Officer at LTT, saying, “You have done a commendable job in the successful introduction of new DEMU rakes in Roha-Diva and Diva-BSR sections of Central Railway.

Subhash Patil with the letter of appreciation. Pics/Shrikant Khuperkar
Subhash Patil with the letter of appreciation. Pics/Shrikant Khuperkar

Your personal efforts and dedication is appreciated.” No great words or ceremonies are required this letter of appreciation is enough to keep Patil beaming. And continuing to do his job, probably even better!

Redressal camp for irked consumers
The Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) is organising a consumer grievance redressal camp at Shrikrishna Mandir Hall, Borivali East, on Sunday March 1 from 10am to 1pm. Depending on the quantum of cases received, CGSI will allot time slots to companies and consumers.

Consumers who wish to participate in the camp can register their complaints via the following means: By calling up the toll-free helpline, 1800-222262, between 10am and 5pm to register their complaint; by sending an e-mail to mah.helpline@gmail.com; by sending an SMS to. 9773336400 with their name, area and name of company against which they have a complaint; or by writing a letter to the society at its official address (details at cgsiindia.org).

Letter imperfect
It isn't public issues that top the list of subjects that people write to ministers in Maharashtra. When we last looked in at Mantralaya, we discovered that more than 90 per cent of letters that ministerial offices receive daily are those seeking transfers by individual employees.

The flow increased over the past two months because transfers happen ahead of the conclusion of the academic year, so that employee parents can get their wards admitted in schools and colleges in time. Fed up with the overflow of such letters, many ministers have asked their staff to store these letters without acknowledging them, because most of these transfers are not finalised at the Mantralaya level.

One minister told us how employees try to pull the wool over the ministers’ eyes. The most common reason employees give for seeking a transfer is that they have to attend to parents who are seriously ill. But when asked, many applicants fail to produce documents to prove their claims. And we also wonder why so many parents of government employees are ill...!

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