While misuse of funds allocated to government agencies have become the norm, what with regular news about misappropriation of funds surfacing in the past few years, the planning department of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has come under the scanner for not using funds meant for welfare of the needy and underprivileged.
The planning department has disbursed only Rs 87 lakh of its allotted Rs 23 crore from 2008 to 2011, failing to utilise the remaining funds. Blaming the planning department of irregularities and lethargic attitude of NMMC officials for the failure, the women and child welfare committee claims that at times they sought purchase of many items to be distributed under various welfare schemes, but their requests went unheeded.
The committee had asked the planning department for procurement of sewing machines, grinders and bicycles that were to be distributed to self help groups, underprivileged women, and children.
However, the planning department officials reportedly did not purchase these items demanded by the committee, which reportedly left over 5,000 beneficiaries empty handed. Many of the women, who had applied for sewing machines under certain schemes, have been waiting for the last three to four years. Similarly, over 250 students who were supposed to get bicycles haven’t received them, as the planning department did not call for a tender for the same.
Standing committee members of the Corporation, too, have slammed the department officials and demanded inquiry into the matter to probe the alleged irregularities.
M K Madhavi, a standing committee member, said “If there was a provision of Rs 23 crore, why the planning department officials failed to purchase items needed for welfare schemes despite having funds and frequent demands by the committee? As per my information, two former chairpersons of the women and child welfare committee had asked the planning department for procurement of these items many a times, but the officials made purchases of just Rs 87 lakh. This is a serious case of negligence by the officials that has affected many underprivileged people.”
Also, whatever purchases were made by the planning department was allegedly done without the tender process being called on and most of the purchased items were reportedly distributed among workers of political parties, it is alleged.
“The department purchased very few sewing machines for distribution but without opening tenders. We have come to know through an RTI that one beneficiary Sayali Pardeshi, who was given an item under the welfare scheme by the planning department, does not exist. We have found that a leader of the Shiv Sena has got that item in the name of Sayali. In another case, one lady was shown on paper that she received a machine from the department when she actually did not receive any. There is huge number of such cases, over 5,000,” said Madhavi. She has demanded an inquiry into the matter to probe irregularities by the planning department officials.
Students waiting to get bicycles
Women who applied for sewing machines
The other side
N N Alhat, deputy municipal commissioner of the planning department, washed his hands of the revelations, saying, “I was not in charge of the department when all this happened. So I cannot throw much light on the issue.” Dadasaheb Chabukswar, who was the deputy municipal commissioner from 2008 to 2011, refuted the allegations of irregularities citing technicalities in budget allocation. “We tried our best to provide benefits under various welfare schemes but could not use all funds due to technical complexities in budget allocation. There is no negligence or irregularity. There could be few cases in which items might be sent to wrong addresses due to errors made by beneficiaries while filling the forms. I will be able to explain the matter only after getting all information in the next few days,” said Chabukswar.