'Why don't you just rename Mantralaya as Sachivalaya!'
NCP ministers snap at cabinet meeting, piqued that a bundle of key proposals related to infra and other projects have been held up with secretary-level officers for the past year
Strain in the Congress-NCP interaction intensified yesterday, with three senior NCP ministers going full throttle at the weeklystate cabinet meeting to rail against secretaries for sitting on important files.
“It appears as if the bureaucrats are running the government and its ministers, because a number of files have been held up with them,” said NCP ministers Chhagan Bhujbal, R R Patil and Jaidatta Kshirsagar.
According to Kshirsagar, important files pertaining to crucial projects of the MSRDC, of which he is in charge, have been gathering dust with the chief secretary or other secretaries. These files should have been forwarded to the Chief Minister’s Office or, at least, tabled before the cabinet for approval.
“You can always say no to a particular proposal, but don’t hold it up for this long. The hang-ups have made MSRDC a non-functional body. If you do not want to take up issues related to the state enterprise, wind it up,” Kshirsagar is believed to have said angrily.
“The files concerning the proposals have been with secretary-level officers over the last one year. If the bureaucrats are having the final say, then the name of Mantralaya should be changed to Sachivalaya.”
Kshirsagar is keen to get the government nod for at least four proposals by the CM-headed cabinet sub-committee on infrastructure: the water transport project, scrapping of bidding process for Worli-Haji Ali sea link,the Versova-Bandra sea link and widening of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
After going through a presentation made by MSRDC last month, the CM reportedly fixed a sub-committee meeting on October 30, but it did not happen.
Another issue raised by the minister was of damage to crops caused by wild boars and antlers. “The state government should take a serious view of this, as hordes of these animals are damaging crops, leaving the farming community helpless,” Kshirsagar said.
In slow motion
After him came Home Minister R R Patil with his issues. According to him, a file related to recruitment of 12,000 policemen is still with the secretary-level officers and hasn’t been forwarded to the CMO and cabinet. “We desperately need policemen to meet the various challenges, and any delay will scuttle the plans of the state police,” said Patil. Sources said his criticism was directed towards additional chief secretary (home) Amitabh Rajan.
PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal supported his cabinet colleagues and raised certain issues pertaining to pending approvals that are plaguing his department, sources said. He has been upset with the slow decision-making process, which has delayed promotions and postings of senior officers from the public works department.