New BMC chief Pravin Pardeshi tackles rain, road and revenue on Day 1

Updated: May 14, 2019, 08:23 IST | Chetna Sadadekar and Sanjeev Shivadekar |

Pravin Pardeshi instructs BMC to complete pending pre-monsoon work, looks at resolving issues with Coastal Road and increasing revenue of the country's richest civic body

Former civic chief Ajoy Mehta with his successor Pravin Pardeshi at the BMC headquarters. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Former civic chief Ajoy Mehta with his successor Pravin Pardeshi at the BMC headquarters. Pic/Suresh Karkera

He has been the municipal commissioner for only a day, but Pravin Pardeshi has already instructed the completion of pending pre-monsoon work on war footing. The 1985 batch IAS officer took charge of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday morning. He would also be looking at resolving communication gaps with environmentalists to eliminate any kind of opposition to the Coastal Road. Pardeshi will also look to increase the revenue of the country's richest civic body by allowing paid parking on roads. He also has plans to help BEST reduce its losses.

Monsoon ready

His priority is making Mumbai monsoon ready. According to him, citizen participation will help tackle the pothole menace. Pardeshi is considering bringing back the pothole tracking system. On Monday, the commissioner gave instructions to complete work on 170 internal flooding spots, as well as resuming the incomplete nullah desilting work on priority. In addition to this, while explaining the re-occurrence of potholes, Pardeshi said it was important to know the drainage system of the area and whether it can flush out 100 per cent of the accumulated rainwater. While this method could be expensive, it will help solve the problem in the long run.

Also Read: BMC to put Marine Drive under the radar

The coastal road

Regarding the citizens' opposition to the Coastal Road project, Pardeshi feels the need to fill a gap in communication. Having said that, he also mentioned how a chance to react and respond to the project had been given when the Coastal Regulation Zone's amendments were taking place. He said that the fisherfolk were their main concern and through various meetings with the Central Fisheries Institute, the project needs to be explained to them along with the mitigation measures mentioned in the detailed project report. Pardeshi said he feels that major concerns could be solved if the communication gap with the citizens is addressed.

Meanwhile, Pardeshi was also threatened with a strike by the engineers' union on his first day. The engineers have been upset after the arrest of S O Kori, the former chief engineer of bridges. While the commissioner felt that their issues needed to be heard, there was no need for a group to react and strike work. Another meeting with engineers is likely to be held on Tuesday to cater to the issue. He said that wherever there is culpability, action will be taken and engineers must take this as a wakeup call to do their duty with due diligence.

Also Read: BMC says Mumbaikars can now directly drink water from the tap

Meet the new civic chief

At a time when Mumbai is facing issues like water scarcity, fast-depleting green cover, civic engineers' protest and environmentalists raising a red flag over infra projects like the Coastal Road, a much sought-after bureaucrat has been assigned the task of setting the tone for successfully tackling these issues.

On Monday, Praveen Pardeshi took over as municipal commissioner from Ajoy Mehta, who has been promoted as the chief secretary of Maharashtra. Pardeshi is a bird and nature enthusiast. The London School of Economics alumni's love for birds kicked off when his father, group captain Pratapsingh presented him with The Book of Indian Birds by Salim Ali, with a note that urged him to start loving Indian birds instead of hunting them.

Pardeshi joined the Maharashtra cadre as an IAS officer in 1985. In 1991, when Latur endured a massive earthquake, he called the shots as district collector. He made such an impact with his work that when an earthquake struck Bhuj in 2001, it is said that Pradeshi was the go-to man for advice. That was well before he was on deputation in Geneva. His return coincided with the reign of the Congress-NCP government, when he was posted as principal secretary of forests.

In 2014, when the BJP-Shiv Sena government came into power, he was picked as principal secretary to CM Fadnavis. Pardeshi's grip over environment, nature, economics and urban development changed his fortunes and the senior IAS officer became the CM's blue-eyed boy. In February 2017, he was promoted as additional chief secretary, a job he held till now.

Also Read: Praveen Pardeshi to be new BMC chief

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