Mumbai: BMC chief under fire for refusing to attend meeting
NCP, Cong, SP and BJP leaders walk out of group leaders' meeting after Iqbal Singh Chahal refuses to join them citing need for maintaining physical distancing
Leaders of all the political parties in the city, except Shiv Sena, are miffed with the BMC commissioner who refused to attend the group leaders' meeting on Monday, citing physical distancing.
They walked out of the group leaders' meeting, and later, Congress, NCP and SP issued a joint statement condemning the rude behaviour of Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal. The BJP also raised its objection.
The leaders of all the political parties in the BMC hold an informal meeting twice or thrice a month to discuss various issues with the mayor and the civic chief, but they hadn't met for the past four months due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
As the lockdown was eased, the first formal meeting of the tree authority was conducted last week and Chahal attended it. But he refused to join Monday's meeting of the group leaders. Congress's Ravi Raja, the opposition leader in the BMC, told mid-day, "Today, the commissioner refused to come to the group leaders' meeting citing physical distancing, and he was dictating orders to the mayor. It is an insult to the post of the mayor. So we walked out of the meeting."
Rakhi Jadhav, group leader of NCP, said, "The commissioner is not available for any discussion on city-related issues. The civic administration is not bothered to give a reply to the letters of corporators and group leaders."
"Lots of issues are occurring due to cancellation of statutory and ward-level meetings. But the commissioner doesn't want to meet the group leaders," said Rais Shaikh, leader of the Samajwadi Party.
Prabhakar Shinde, the BJP leader in the BMC, told mid-day, "Lots of illegal work is going on in the city under the guise of the pandemic. The commissioner feared that he would be cornered by us. He attended the tree authority meeting on August 3, where illegal proposals were passed, but he refused to join today's meeting."
Mayor Kishori Pednekar was unavailable for comment, while the BMC chief refused to speak on the matter. However, a BMC official said, "The state Urban Development Department had issued an order to all the municipal corporations on July 3, stating that all scheduled meetings must take place via video conferencing. As an administrative office, the BMC has to obey the order. Even the Tree Authority officials held a video conference."
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