Over the past week, the sprawling Queens Barracks premises, that house the Nationalist Congress Party office, off Free Press Journal Marg near Mantralaya, have been under renovation. While large-scale repair work is visible all over the place, any questions about the requisite permission from the Public Works Department (PWD) are deflected with vague answers.The party office stands on government land, and rules say any repair or renovation work in such cases requires a sanction from the PWD. The PWD is headed by Chhagan Bhujbal, an NCP minister.
Wild goose chase
A visit by MiD DAY to various offices of the PWD to see if permission had been granted for the work proved futile; each office kept directing us to various other departments. Every officer who was approached claimed it was not his responsibility to provide permission for such work. Hemant Patil, the civil assistant engineer, advised a visit to the office of Balaji Patil, civil deputy engineer. The latter, who was on vacation, said over the phone it was not his responsibility to provide permissions.
MiD DAY was then directed to the office of section engineer Thackre, who was also on leave; his assistant stated that it was the job of the civil engineer to provide details on such issues. While Ashok Devre of the NCP claimed it was only “minimal” work that was being done “to prevent water seepage”, sources in the NCP said the work at the party office was rather more extensive than was being stated and a complete rehaul of the office space was being done without PWD permissions. The sources said NCP chief Sharad Pawar had decided to go for complete renovation of the office.
Routine work: NCP
Devre denied these claims, asserting that such work is undertaken every five years. Waving a piece of paper, he said it was from the PWD, but refused to let MiD DAY read it.