Activists wrestle civic body over Rs 1-crore tournament
Allege that funds meant for civic work is being diverted for Mayor's Trophy International Wrestling Championship that will be held outside PMC limits
RTI activists Vijay Kumbhar and Major General (Retd) SCN Jatar have objected to Rs 1 crore being approved by the PMC to conduct the Mayor’s Trophy International Wrestling Championship, which kicks off in the city today.
The event is being held at Shivane village outside the civic body’s jurisdiction, and for the first time ever, wrestlers from outside the country have been invited to participate. The PMC Standing Committee approved the amount on January 1 this year for organising the event.
Activists complain that funds meant for other important developmental works in the civic body’s annual budget are being wasted on the event. The PMC, according to them, is doing something, which is not permissible under Section 89 of the BPMC Act. The activists have warned of taking the matter up with the higher authorities for allegedly succumbing to the pressure from the ruling NCP, which is hosting the event from today.
Earlier, other political parties, excluding the ruling NCP, had opposed the event being organised. Baburao Chandere, Standing Committee chairman, said, “The approval was possible following votes being cast by committee members, in which the ruling NCP with Congress and one BJP member voted in favour of the competition.” Earlier, Congress, BJP and MNS opposed the event.
Kumbhar, Jatar, Vivek Velankar, Satish Khot, Sujit Patwardhan and Jugal Rathi sent an undersigned letter to Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak, alleging that Rs 50 lakh had been diverted for the event, which was actually intended for other important civic works. The letter states that this move goes against Section 86 of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act set in 1949.
Quoting the section, Kumbhar said, “The municipal commissioner should not make provision of the amount unless it has not been included in the civic body annual budget. If there is no provision for this event in the budget, it is wrong to divert the amount for the same.”
Velankar said, “PMC is also violating other norms set for conducting such international sports events. As per Section 82 of the BPMC Act, all funds should be gathered together first, and can only be spent after other required permissions have been granted.”
Vikas Mathkari, BJP city president, said, “It seems like the ruling NCP has exerted political pressure on the municipal commissioner. We will be taking a further line of action after listening to Vishnu Harihar’s opinion, as he also voted in favour of the event in the Standing Committee meeting.”
The other side
Ulka Kalamkar, chief auditor, PMC, said, “Under the BPMC provision, the right to transfer funds is given to the municipal Standing Committee and General Body. Therefore, there is no question of any illegal or ‘out of the way’ move on the civic body’s part in conducting the International Wrestling Championship.” Mangesh Joshi, deputy commissioner (Social Welfare) PMC, who has taken initiative in the fund diversion, was not available for comment.