The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) administration has faced controversies over road projects and awarding contracts for garbage collection. Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar sets the record straight in an interview to The Indian Express.
A couple of months ago, there were allegations of irregularities in road contracts worth Rs 425 crore. The Chief Minister’s Office had also sought a report in the matter. Has the controversy blown over?
There was no controversy whatsoever. In fact, we had saved Rs 91 crore while awarding the contract. The tenders were accepted below the estimated price and not above as was misunderstood by certain quarters. Everything was fair and legal. We have explained the matter in detail to the CM’s office. There has been no communication from them after that.
There has been another controversy over award of tenders of garbage collection to two agencies. What is your response to that?
The civic administration had picked two agencies to collect the city’s garbage and carry it to the Moshi garbage depot. However, the opposition wanted more than two agencies as they felt two agencies will not be able to manage. The earlier standing committee had given the approval for the two firms. However, the new standing committee has scrapped the proposal and recommended appointment of four agencies. The issue will now go before the civic general body meeting.
Does this mean that the administration’s proposal was not acceptable to the corporators?
We are in favour of big players doing the job. We feel the smaller players do not have the wherewithal or the capacity to do the job. The smaller players are neither organised nor systematic. For instance, the smaller players have been found to be trampling upon norms when it comes to paying minimum wages to the workers, which is not the case when it comes to bigger players. Anyway, we have gone for financial appraisal by a government expert in this matter.
During Shrikar Pardeshi’s tenure Sarathi helpline was a big hit. These days, local residents grumble that their grievances are not being redressed. Why is your administration neglecting Sarathi?
It’s not true. In fact, Sarathi continues to get good response. Every month, on an average, we get 8,000 complaints. Also, most of the complaints are being re-opened. Complaints have been closed, with or without solution. Sometimes the complaints are closed because they need long-term solution. For instance, if a resident demands the construction of a road, there is a process to be followed, like acquisition of land, which takes time. Therefore, the complaints are closed, but they are closed temporarily. Once we are in a position to construct the road, the complaint will be re-opened.
Indiscriminately placed drainage chambers or storm water drains on city’s road are proving dangerous for road users. Recently a yoga teacher fell unconscious after her cycle hit a drainage chamber, which did not align with the surface of the road. Why is your road department doing such shoddy work?
Instructions have been given to the officials concerned to ensure that the drainage chamber covers are aligned with the surface of the road and that they do not cause accidents.
The PCMC administration has come up with a parking policy. But it seems to be applicable only to highways and bigger roads, not to internal roads in the suburbs. Your take on this?
We are implementing the parking policy in a phase-wise manner. In a city which has had no parking policy, we feel it will take time for citizens to accept it. After we implement it on highways passing through the city and other key roads, it will be implemented on internal roads as well.
Your administration is accused by Pune residents of ignoring road safety. A nine-year-old boy died on the Gurav Pimple-Nashik Phata Road and a fortnight later a youth was killed in the same area. Vehicles race at break-neck speed. Residents allege that the PCMC administration has not put in place any safety mechanism despite repeated requests.
I have directed officials to conduct safety audit on key roads and devise ways to put a safety mechanism in place. It will be done on the Gurav Pimple-Nashik Phata Road as well as on other roads in the city.
Speed-breakers continue to pose a threat to road users, especially two-wheeler riders. But PCMC officials seem to be least concerned about the danger as they go about setting up speed-breakers across the city.
We are looking at the option of rumbler strips wherever possible. This aspect is being studied.