Mumbai: Four suspended, inquiry against 18 civic officials over plot scam

Aug 22, 2018, 18:25 IST | A Correspondent

Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta ordered the probe after finding their conducts malafide in the Jogeshwari plot acquisition scam

Mumbai: Four suspended, inquiry against 18 civic officials over plot scam
Ajoy Mehta submitted the preliminary inquiry report with a final order before the Standing Committee chairman. File pic

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has suspended four civic officials and initiated a full-fledged inquiry against 18 officials from the Development Plan (DP) Department and the Law Department, after finding their conducts malafide in the Jogeshwari plot acquisition scam.

After a preliminary inquiry report prepared by Deputy Municipal Commissioner (DMC) Nidhi Choudhary was submitted to municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta, he ordered a detailed full-fledged departmental inquiry of 18 officials from both the departments. Mehta submitted Chaudhary's inquiry report with a final order before the Standing Committee chairman on Monday evening.

Four officials suspended
As per the report, of 18 officials, four - executive engineer Ashok Shendge, assistant engineer Vijay Wagh, sub-engineer Ganesh Pawar from DP department and law officer P V Naik from law department – were placed under suspension immediately, for deliberately delaying the process of acquisition of the Jogeshwari plot.

Mehta's three-page order note states that the matter is very serious. From perusal of reports it is clear that there were concerted efforts involving many parties to ensure that the BMC, and in effect the citizens, were denied the use of this plot for the stated public purpose. According to the report, during the inquiry, it was found that there have been extreme unexplained and unwarranted delays in processing the file.

In 2014, a private landowner in Jogeshwari issued a purchase notice to the BMC. The land was reserved for public amenities and its current market value is about Rs 500 crore. However, the process was delayed, and cases were presented in the High Court and Supreme Court with loopholes, because of which the civic body lost the plot.

Mehta orders inquiry
In recent developments that had shocked everyone, after the civic body lost the case in the HC, Mehta had given remarks of approaching the Supreme Court to fight it. However, he later found that his order note was tampered with by some unknown officials. According to the BMC, Mehta's remark was, 'This is a serious matter and the same should be challenged in the Supreme Court,' but it was changed to, 'should not be challenged'.

After this, recently, Mehta had ordered an inquiry in this case. A senior civic official said, "Now, a detailed departmental inquiry of DP department officials will be conducted by hydraulic engineer Ashok Tawadia. Deputy municipal commissioner Narendra Barde will conduct a detailed inquiry of law officers. The report has also recommended reforms in law department."

Standing Committee members have demanded a judicial probe in this matter. Leader of the house Vishakha Raut said, "We are not accepting this probe report. There should be a judicial probe conducted in this case. Also, the administration should set up a mechanism to change officials' malpractices."

Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam slammed Mehta following the suspension order. Calling the probe report presented by the BMC Commissioner on Monday an eyewash, Nirupam said that the entire idea of having the civic commissioner conduct a probe report is absurd, since he is the main culprit in this case.

13,000 sq. mts
The land worth Rs 500 crore that the BMC lost

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