The event called India Municipal Vision 2020 (IMV 2020) was held earlier this week. A news article published in a leading magazine on September 27, 2002, mentioned that Wisitex Foundation was a dubious company which took people for a ride with its promise of a lavish expo in New York. The article said though announcements were made before the New York event that it would be attended by the then health minister Shatrughan Sinha and minister of state for commerce Rajiv Pratap Rudy. It reported that ultimately no one came for the event.
The city had the same experience when a seminar and exhibition was organised where PMC and Wisitex Foundation jointly discussed the civic issues across the country. The advertisement published prior to the event claimed that the mayors and municipal commissioners of civic bodies from across the country would participate in it. It also claimed Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan would be present at the event.
In reality, very few people turned up. Chavan was also not present for the programme. In their defence, the Mayor and other officials claim that the PMC spent money only on advertising for the event and the inaugural function.
RTI activist Kumbhar said there was no proposal passed in the General Body of the PMC for holding a seminar or exhibition under the banner of IMV 2020. He asked how the PMC could associate itself with the private firm and spend a large sum on the seminar and exhibition organised in a five-star hotel in the city.
“The sole reason behind the exhibition and seminar was to give a platform to private companies and customers in order to increase business, and for this the local self-government institutions across the country were targeted as patrons,” Kumbhar said.
The RTI activist also alleged that the estimated expenditure for the entire event was around Rs 40 lakh and these expenses were made by PMC. “By holding the inauguration ceremony in a public auditorium, PMC created the illusion that it was its own event and so its officials could easily attend the programme of a private company,” he said.
He said the PMC not only financially backed the event but also placed advertisements for it in which it was mentioned that the event would be attended by the Chief Minister and in this way misguided the representatives of local self-government institutions across the country.
Mayor Vaishali Bankar and Municipal Secretary Sunil Parkhi denied the PMC spent money on anything but advertisements and the inaugural ceremony of the event. Parkhi said he was not aware of the dubious nature of the company, while Bankar completely denied that the company was involved in doubtful dealings.