A DAY after the general body of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) postponed the decision on the Smart City Plan (SCP) till January 4, the state government, cracking its whip on the civic body on Thursday, asked it to take a clear stand on the SCP by December 14 or face action. Reacting to the stern government directive, Mayor Dattatreya Dhankawade has called for a special general body meeting on December 14 to discuss the SGP agenda.
The state’s urban development department (UDD) directive was in response to a letter sent by the Municipal Commissioner, Kunal Kumar, asking for the state government’s intervention in the matter.
The directives, which were issued by deputy secretary UDD, also talked about action against the civic body by the state in case the civic body failed to follow the same. High drama was witnessed during PMC’s general body meeting on Wednesday when the civic administration had placed the SCP on the agenda. NCP-Congress and MNS corporators, however, voted for postponement of the matter till January 4 . As the deadline to submit the plan was December 4, this decision could have severely hampered the chances of the city to make it in the first phase.
NCP and Congress, with the support of MNS, proposed to adjourn the meeting till January 4, while expressing apprehension about setting up a special purpose vehicle for implementation of the SCP and the possible financial burden on citizens to raise funds for the same. BJP and Shiv Sena opposed the decision to postpone the meeting saying it would create hurdles in city’s development. Congress, NCP and MNS also had not allowed Municipal Commissioner Kunal Kumar to speak or make a presentation on the SCP saying they did not want to listen to him.
Kumar had written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday, informing him of the developments while urging the state to use its powers under the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 1949, to direct the PMC general body to take a decision by December 14. The civic chief had also talked about trying to convince the elected representative to give their consent. After the general body meeting, Kumar hinted that he would have to send it without their consent. On Thursday, the eight BJP MLAs from the city had met the chief minister to apprise him of the situation and ask for intervention in the matter.
In response to Kumar’s letter, the UDD issued a letter on Thursday. The letter said that if the PMC failed to send their proposal on time, it would result in the citizens of the Pune being deprived of the benefits of the smart city project. Also, it stated that in case the PMC failed to send the proposal on time it will malign the image of the state government. In view of the above reasons, the letter ordered the PMC to take a clear stand on the matter within December 14. Failing to do so, the letter said would invite action against it by the state government.
Reacting sharply to the letter, deputy mayor and Congress leader Aba Bagul said it was an insult to the Mayor and Puneites.”The deputy secretary of the UDD does not have the right to pass such orders. The governor can only direct local government bodies through promulgation of an ordinance,” he said, adding, PMC is the third civic body in the state, after Nasik and Navi Mumbai municipal corporations, which has been unable to convince its elected representatives for SCP.