The ongoing discord between the administrative and elected wings of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has become evident in a circular of the General Administration Department issued by Municipal Commissioner H S Patel, in an attempt to end the “influence of politicians” on demoralised officers in matters of administrative decisions.
The circular comes close on the heels of a demolition drive in the communally sensitive old city areas where Patel has been personally overseeing the demolitions and the subsequent rehabilitation of the displaced families.
The circular points out to the incidents of the recent past where “many officials are called by the non-officials, including statutory functionaries for the work related to the Corporation” and presentations were arranged by senior officers without the approval of the Commissioner and directives implemented without the concurrence of the Commissioner.
Patel makes his displeasure clear about the excess powers used by the statutory functionaries. The circular states, “Needless to say, the General Board or the Standing Committee has to take a policy decision on the proposals submitted by the Municipal Commissioner; there is no suo moto power with these non-executive statutory authorities and therefore, any instructions/directives given by this statutory authorities is not to be implemented without the approval of the Municipal Commissioner. If it is of routine complaint, redressal part of any issue, then it is to be implemented as a part of the implementing agency, but on any policy related issues or any work which requires the approval of the Municipal Commissioner is not to be implemented without bringing to the notice of the Municipal Commissioner… Even on any issue if some suggestions/recommendations are made, a separate note should be submitted to apprise the Municipal Commissioner for onward action and it should be consistent with the Corporation’s policy.”
The circular forbids officers from “indulging in any of the activities, which is in breach of the above guidelines”, as it would make them “liable to disciplinary action”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Patel said that the circular was an attempt to scrupulously maintain administrative discipline in the organisation, enunciated in the GPMC Act. Patel said, “The Statutory office-bearers can summon an executive officer but they cannot give a directive to the officers to implement an order. They can make recommendations which are good; they must refer it to the Municipal Commissioner. Otherwise, it is a collapse of the administrative procedure.”