What lockdown? Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation chief gets his office renovated

Updated: Jun 03, 2020, 07:36 IST | Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

Commissioner finds time for a better office with new furniture, a bigger house

This picture has been used for representational purposes
This picture has been used for representational purposes

While tackling COVID-19 in his jurisdiction, the commissioner of Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation (VVCMC), Gangatharan D, who took charge in April has also found time to get his bungalow renovated. Never mind if it is the lockdown, before the bungalow, he had also got his office renovated. Soon after assuming charge, the civic commissioner had got his office renovated as per Vastu Shashtra. The expenditure in both the renovations is expected to total around R1 crore, said a source at VVCMC.

"He joined in April and instead of focusing on social distancing, the commissioner ordered the renovation of his chamber on the second floor of the corporation's head office. He has got the wall painted while a new sofa, table and chairs were also bought. The size of his chamber has also been increased. All the renovation was done during the lockdown," said the source.

"The expenditure for office renovation itself is expected be around R15-20 lakh," added the source. Not satisfied with the renovation of his office, now the commissioner is getting his official bungalow in Vasai renovated. "It was a ground-plus-one structure and on the ground floor there were a few shops given on rent by the corporation. But he got them broken down to create a large living room and a sprawling bedroom on the ground floor," the source said.

A mid-day team visited the bungalow and saw four to five bricklayers working on the ground floor. "We have been told to renovate the structure into a hall and bedroom. It will take another two weeks to get it fully renovated," site supervisor Balaji told mid-day.

Sources at the VVCMC have said the commissioner also wants to install an elevator. "The government is busy stressing on maintaining social distancing and here the commissioner is busy getting his office and bungalow renovated. The commissioner should have focused on controlling the spread of COVID-19 instead of renovations," an official from VVCMC said.

"He has been brazenly violating the lockdown norms, as he not only encouraged workers at one place, but must have forced shopkeepers to get raw material used in the renovation work," added the source.

Vasai Virar district president of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Rajaram Mulik wants commissioner Gangatharan to be booked for violating lockdown norms. "How can one renovate his bungalow and office when COVID-19 cases are rising in Vasai Virar area? Also, how can he use corporation funds when he has sacked 80 contractual employees who worked at COVID hospitals?" said Mulik.

"On the pretext of social distancing, the commissioner has told all contractual engineers to work on alternate days since mid-May. So these engineers are being paid only for 15 days a month. But is the social distancing rule being followed during renovation?" added Mulik.

General secretary, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nalasopara, Manoj Barot said, "The renovation work at the commissioner's bungalow should be stopped immediately, as it is a violation of lockdown norms."

Calls and messages to Gangatharan went unanswered.

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