Mumbai Mayor's refusal to play second fiddle delaying civic projects?

Updated: Feb 16, 2019, 14:35 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

Mumbai civic authorities say they are forced to stall launch of new projects as Mayor insists only he can decide who will do the honours and when

The fire brigade is waiting to hear from the Mayor on when the new command and control system at the Byculla headquarters can be inaugurated. File Pic
The fire brigade is waiting to hear from the Mayor on when the new command and control system at the Byculla headquarters can be inaugurated. File Pic

Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar won't let the BMC forget that he is the first citizen, insisting on the right to be the first to learn about and announce new projects and policies.

Unfortunately, this means common citizens and their interests will once again come last, with projects being put on hold until Mahadeshwar is available to do the honours. Now, the fire department fears the launch of its long awaited command and control system will also be held up because of this.

Earlier civic authorities would decide the time and date of inaugurations and ground-breaking ceremonies for new projects, and would invite the Mayor as chief guest accordingly. Now, however, Shiv Sena's Mahadeshwar is making all the decisions, including the timing of the event and who the chief guest will be. This has been the case ever since he wrote to the BMC commissioner last November, objecting to the civic administration announcing projects and policies and stating that it was his right to do so. Since then, civic departments have started checking for his availability first, before planning such events.

'Political move'
Civic officials fear this is likely to delay the inception and execution of projects. Already, there was serious delay from the Mayor's end while deciding the date and time for the Bhoomi Pujan of the ambitious coastal road project.

"This can be looked at as a political move, as only Sena top guns are seen inaugurating even smallest of the projects. But, it was the delay in deciding the time and date which became a cause for concern, especially after the coastal road project, for which the bhoomi pujan was delayed by over a month," said a senior civic official.

Fire dept waiting
The latest event awaiting the Mayor's nod is the inauguration of the fire department's new command and control system, which has been overhauled after three years and is now ready. A letter informing Mahadeshwar about the project completion and seeking his availability was sent last week, and his reply is still awaited. The control room, which will be operated out of the Byculla fire headquarters, will have incident management system, GPS-based vehicle tracking, voice-logging system and a debriefing system. Whatever activity takes place during fire-fighting will be monitored here.

A senior civic official said that the project is finally complete after many years, but it cannot be launched until the inauguration. He added, "The department has written to the Mayor to decide on who will inaugurate the project and when. We are waiting for his response." Neither Mayor Mahadeshwar nor fire chief P S Rahangdale were available for comment.

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