Mumbai: Suspended fire officer accused of corruption, malpractice

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Shashikant Kale’s tenure at the department was riddled with controversies

More skeletons tumbled out on Saturday, as sources from the fire brigade accused Deputy Chief Fire Officer Shashikant Kale of corruption and malpractice. Kale was suspended on Friday for issuing a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to a controversial proposal for a building in Mahim that flouted fire safety rules.

Shashikant Kale
Shashikant Kale

Past imperfect
Sources pointed out that Kale was suspended almost eight years ago when found guilty of selling petrol reserved for fire trucks and other official vehicles. When the matter was brought to light, the then Additional Municipal Commissioner (AMC), Shrikant Singh, suspended Kale for misconduct of service and initiated an inquiry. He was suspended for one year and six months but was reinstated without a proper inquiry. Similar complaints of misconduct against Kale, surprisingly, never affected his chances of getting promoted.

A source from the fire brigade said, “Kale was always embroiled in controversies for his corrupt practices such as granting No Objection Certificate (NOC) to buildings which violated norms. In 2006, he was the station officer at Shivaji Park fire station. During that time, he sold petrol which was meant for official purposes. After getting suspended by AMC Shrikant Singh for one-and-a-half years, he managed to get reinstated by the then chief fire officer, AV Sawant.”

Later, Kale managed to get promoted to the post of Assistant Divisional Fire Officer (ADFO) and continued indulging in malpractice. “He never stopped the wrongdoing. In another case, he granted a NOC to a proposal for a building in Walkeshwar which violated Development Control Rules (DCR). This case came to light last year when two residents of the area, filed a complaint,” a senior official from the fire brigade told sunday mid-day. “He granted permission even though the proposal didn’t mention that the building plan has enough space for an access road.”

Promotion uncalled for
The State Fire Department also conducted an inquiry into the case and pointed out the DCR violation. Yet, Kale got promoted two-and-a-half years back as Deputy Chief Officer, in spite of the ongoing inquiry. Questioning the system, a fire officer said, “An officer cannot be promoted if an inquiry is pending against him. But in Kale’s case, the department had ignored the rules.” Kale was also involved in another controversy, for threatening a clerk who refused to show him confidential papers regarding a colleague’s promotion. In the same year, Kale was fined Rs 50,000 by the Municipal Commissioner for withholding his and three other colleagues’ transfer orders. BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte suspended Kale on Friday as he was found guilty of issuing a NOC to proposal for a building in Mahim despite the Supreme Court’s orders to leave a six-metre space around the building. The proposal was already rejected by the deputy officer of that region, PS Rhangdale, for violating safety rules.

When sunday mid-day contacted Kale for comment, he disconnected the call.

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