New BMC chief Pravin Pardeshi brings engineers back from leave
Were on mass leave after action against a former chief engineer; commissioner also proposes that IIT-Bombay experts train engineers to monitor bridge inspections
It seems the tenure of the new Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner has begun on a good footing. As his first official act, Pravin Pardeshi has convinced engineers who were on mass leave after action against a former chief engineer of the Bridges Department, to resume duty. The 42 engineers who were on leave met the commissioner on Tuesday and resumed work. Their plan of going on strike has been cancelled.
IIT to train engineers
Pardeshi has also verbally proposed that experts from IIT-Bombay be appointed to train the Bridges Department engineers to monitor the inspection of various bridges. This was decided as the structural audit or inspection can be monitored with expertise which is currently lacking. The move came after the engineers pointed that they were not experts in monitoring the structural experts and auditors, and as a solution, the training was proposed, said Municipal Engineers' Union members. This training is likely to take place with groups of 10 engineers. Another demand of the engineers for filling vacant posts was accepted, and a verbal assurance came from the commissioner for the same, said union members.
No respite for Kori
However, there is no respite expected in the case of chief engineer SO Kori who was arrested. Sources revealed that the BMC is unlikely to oppose the bail application of the former head of the Bridges Department who was arrested last week, following the collapse of the foot overbridge at CSMT. Further, the members said that the main reason why the strike was called off is that the commissioner agreed to their demand that engineers will not be treated as criminals in the departmental inquiry. As many as 40 bridge project works, 170 minor repairs on the city's bridges and 47 major repair works which were to be taken care of before the monsoon were pending due to the mass leave by engineers. In the case of Kori, where police took suo moto action even before the inquiry into the FOB crash was completed, Bridges Department engineers were upset and had gone on mass leave last week, jeopardising completion of work on bridges before monsoon.
Union member Sainath Rajadhyaksha said, "The demand about the departmental inquiry before any criminal charges are pressed was agreed upon by the municipal commissioner, and we are positive, that in future criminal action will be taken only after it can be proved that there was criminal intent. The vacant posts too will be filled and also IIT will be roped in to train engineers to make them efficient enough to supervise the structural inspection carried out by experts." On Monday, Pardeshi had said that if there is negligence, action will be unavoidable. Sources present in the meeting said that while the commissioner continued this stand, he also said that departmental inquiry will be given priority over any kind of criminal charge, unless it is proven that an engineer purposely wronged the citizens and the administration.
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