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Covid-19 expenditure: BJP writes to BMC, asks to move resolution to revoke special financial powers granted to top civic officers

Under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the then municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi empowered certain officers to make financial decisions for the city for the period of the Act being in place.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai | Updated: January 6, 2021 10:41:41 pm
maharashtra bjp, jp nadda, bmc, bmc polls, maharashtra news. indian express newsPrabhakar Shinde, BJP group leader, in his letter said the emergency situation on account of Covid-19 was under control and all statutory committees were functioning normally. (Representational)

THE BJP on Wednesday wrote to the BMC municipal secretary to allow the party to move a resolution to revoke all special financial powers granted to municipal commissioner, additional municipal commissioners and assistant municipal commissioners, to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic in March.

Under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the then municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi empowered certain officers to make financial decisions for the city for the period of the Act being in place.

Prabhakar Shinde, BJP group leader, in his letter said the emergency situation on account of Covid-19 was under control and all statutory committees were functioning normally. “It is important to withdraw these special powers as there are allegations that these powers are allegedly being misused to empty BMC coffers and enrich relatives of ruling party leaders.”

In the standing committee meeting, which was convened after lockdown in October, corporators demanded that the BMC should restore their powers to approve tenders related to Covid-19 expenditure.

Shinde added that the standing committee, empowered to approve all financial expenses of the corporation, was now fully functional and, so, the special powers must be withdrawn.

The Shiv Sena, ruling party in the BMC, can move a resolution to restore the power with the standing committee members.

According to data from the civic body, the administration has, so far, spent Rs 1,600 crore to tackle the pandemic. Last week, amid opposition, the Standing Committee headed by Sena corporator Yashwant Jadhav approved an additional Rs 400 crore for Covid expenditure.

In addition, group leader of Congress, BJP, NCP and SP met the municipal commissioner on Wednesday, demanding the general body meeting to be held in person. The general body or the corporation is a group of all elected (227) and nominated corporators (five) and is presided over by the mayor. It gives the final approval to all the civic body’s proposals from the budget to road repairs. All proposals are tabled before the corporation for final approval.

At present, it is held through videoconferencing. Corporators across parties have demanded that they should be physically allowed to attend the meeting, as many have faced technical glitches in past meetings.

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