The Sharad Pawar-led NCP, which rules the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, has decided to support civic officials who have been accused of irregularities to the tune of Rs 15 crore in the purchase of underground cable. A week after it shelved the proposal to take action against the “corrupt” officials, the NCP continues to maintain that no more inquiry is required in the matter.
“No, we don’t think there is any scandal in the cable purchase, therefore there is no question of conducting further probe and accepting the proposal to take action against officials,” said Yogesh Behl, president of the NCP’s Pimpri-Chinchwad unit. Last week, during the general body meeting, Behl had vehemently supported the civic officials against whom former PCMC commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi had initiated a probe.
Behl had come under severe criticism from opposition corporators, and also his party’s senior corporator R S Kumar who had accused him of backing “corrupt” officials. But Behl has remained adamant. “The probe conducted by the committee set up by Shrikar Pardeshi was ad hoc…,” he said.
Explaining “ad hoc”, Behl said Pardeshi’s decision to suspend two officials before his last transfer was taken in a hurry. “He acted on a complaint in the matter and there seemed to be lack of seriousness in his action. Actually, the cable purchase was made much before Pardeshi’s tenure,” he said.
Like Behl, Mayor Mohini Lande too has come under fire for shelving the proposal to take action against the “corrupt” officials during the GB meeting. “I shelved the proposal because the House leader told me to do so…Our leader Ajit Pawar has directed us to listen to the party’s directive. So I abided by it while shelving the proposal,” said the mayor.
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When pointed out that she was backing the “corrupt”, Lande said she would order a departmental inquiry into the matter at the next GB meeting.
The cable scam pertains to purchase of underground cable for Rs 2.5 crore by the “C” division of PCMC in 2007-2008. The final bill amount approved by the PCMC was Rs 12 crore. The cable was apparently purchased without following the due tender process and permission of the standing committee. Further, cables worth Rs 3 crore from a top firm was provided to a contractor by the PCMC for the works awarded. However, when it came to returning the additional cable after the work was over, he gave back sub-standard cable of a little known firm to the PCMC allegedly with the help of officials. The contractor is reportedly close to a former mayor.
Corporator Seema Savle, who had exposed the scandal, said: “Why is the NCP afraid of conducting a departmental probe? It is clear that NCP biggies are involved in this scandal.”
AAP leader Maruti Bhapkar said he would approach the chief minister this week, seeking his personal intervention. Salve too said she would approach the CM or the High Court.
Shiv Sena leader Baba Dhumal accused Behl of behaving like an advocate of the “corrupt” officials. “What is your interest in this matter, Mr Behl,” he asked in a press release. Even NCP corporators like Neeta Padala and Rajendra Jagtap warned the party against supporting the corrupt.
Meanwhile, the NCP has also come under fire for not acting against three retired top doctors who had allegedly purchased a costly machine, which was not required. Behl said the machine would be fully utilised and not go waste.