WHILE stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma has not revealed the identity of the civic official who he said had sought a Rs 5-lakh bribe from him, corruption allegations are all too common in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). According to data from the Maharashtra Police Anti Corruption Bureau, the maximum number of corruption cases involving civic officials pertain to approving illegal constructions, approving building proposals and granting permissions for shops and establishments.
Based on an analysis of the officials of the government agencies booked by the ACB for accepting bribes across the state, the municipal bodies stand fifth among 41 such departments for most number of cases, behind departments such as revenue and police.
A senior ACB official said of the cases in which BMC officials have been trapped by them for demanding or accepting bribes, most pertain to instances of the BMC officials asking for money to not take action against illegal construction complaints.
Ironically, Sharma made the same charge against the BMC official last week.
“Apart from demanding money to not take action in cases of illegal construction, there have been instances where builders have told us about money being demanded by the BMC officials for approving their proposal,”an official said.
“When it comes to building constructions, there several permissions that the builder needs and certain elements of the civic body demand money at several stages. Some of them are threatened with stop-work notices if money is not paid,” the official added.
Giving an example, the officer said in February this year, Pushkar Meshram, a BMC engineer, along with his aide Sandeep Rajput, an assistant engineer, was trapped and arrested for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 10 lakh as first instalment of Rs 41 lakh demanded for not initiating action against a builder’s ongoing construction work.
A senior inspector said apart from these two cases, officials of the local ward offices of the BMC have been caught demanding bribes from several hotels, shops and other establishments in order to not take action against them.
“Like cases of building construction, even when it comes to commercial establishments, several permissions are required. If there is some rule being flouted, the civic officials have in several cases demanded money and have been caught by us red-handed,” the officer said.
As per the state-wise trend, majority of the civic officials trapped by the ACB have been class-3 employees. Of the 32 civic body officials trapped by the ACB, 25 of them are class-3 officials comprising clerical staff, revealed statistics.
“While at times the junior official is himself involved, there have also been cases where the junior is collecting the money at the behest of a senior,” the officer added.