While Mumbai sinks, BMC top bosses gallivant abroad
As the monsoon continues to reveal shoddy work on roads, the mayor, standing committee chairman, leader of the house and Opposition leader are among those who are away on a 'study tour' to Singapore.
With bumpy rides on pothole-riddled roads, intermittent traffic jams, trees collapsing all around and dilapidated buildings taking a dive, most Mumbaikars would want to get away from the city during the monsoon mayhem. Few, however, are fortuitous enough to pull it off. For instance, sample these names: Sunil Prabhu (mayor), Dnyanraj Nikam (Congress, opposition leader in BMC), Yashodhar Phanse (Shiv Sena, leader of the House in BMC), Rahul Shewale (Shiv Sena, standing committee chairman), Dilip Patel (BJP), Dhananjay Pisal (NCP) and Rais Shaikh (SP).
Even as the city and its fortunes continue to sink steadily with every falling droplet, the mayor and the aforementioned senior corporators are floating and absorbing ideas in Singapore at a study tour about ‘landfill and water management’.
Interestingly, while till date BMC has not been able to implement a plastic ban, Prabhu and company will be participating in discussions on how to dispose of non-recyclable waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Is this how Mumbai is to be governed? When the whole city is facing problems of waterlogging, potholed roads, tree collapses, traffic jams and power cuts, these people who are supposed to represent us, are going abroad to have a good time!” exclaimed Dilip Lande, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader.
Incidentally, Lande — who represents his party in BMC — says he too was invited, but refused to go. “In the last few years, there have been many such study tours. But what part of their acquired wisdom have the mayors and corporators implemented in the city? Today, we have the same potholed roads, the same waterlogging, the same water shortage problems. This is nothing but a picnic for these members at the expense of taxpaying Mumbaikars,” he maintained.
Out of touch
Lande insisted that if a fire broke out at the civic headquarters — as it did at Mantralaya — or if there were any other emergency in the city, none of these leaders would be in contact with BMC officials. The MNS leader’s observations proved bearably true as MiD DAY was unable to contact the mayor and standing committee chairman. Others appeared nonchalant. Speaking to MiD DAY, Congress leader Nikam said, “If any disaster occurs, we will reach Mumbai within four to five hours. So there would not be any problem.”
Even some Sena colleagues of the mayor are questioning the timing of the trip. “I used to go for many foreign tours, but I always cancelled my trips during the monsoon as our city comes to a halt with half a bucket of rain,” said a former Sena mayor on condition of anonymity.
When disaster strikes
Roles of BMC leaders during a disaster/calamity:
>> Mayor: Has to visit the spot to control the mob. He speaks to citizens and discusses what help they need. He then forwards suggestions and instructs the municipal commissioner to do the needful. He has powers to sanction up to Rs 2 crore.
>> Leader of the House: Can call a meeting of his party corporators during disaster and allot work to them to handle local area situations.
>> Opposition leader: It is expected that he keep ‘check’ on ruling party’s decisions. Wherever he feels that a resolution by the ruling party or administration would go against public interest, he’s expected to raise his voice.
>> Standing committee chairperson: The second most powerful post after the mayor’s in the civic body as far as finance is concerned. Any project with budget of over Rs 5 lakh has to go through this committee. So any such expenditure during a disaster situation would require a post-facto approval of the committee.
>> Other leaders: Though group leaders do not have individual powers, they can call a meeting to discuss the issue and make suggestions to the administration through the mayor at the time of a disaster or calamity.
Did you know?
Former mayor Shubha Raul has a record of five foreign tours in a year. In 2007-08 she visited Turkey, Israel, USA, Australia and Europe.