WITH HIS party having received brickbats for the drains desilting scam that emerged last monsoon, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is likely to avoid the annual tour that he undertakes every year along with senior party leaders in the BMC to inspect desilting work of drains ahead of the monsoon.
The party, which faced criticism after an internal inquiry established serious irregularities in the pre-monsoon desilting of drains last year, has instead delegated the responsibility to local shakha pramukhs.
Sena leaders cited Uddhav’s health issues as the reason behind the break from his yearly ritual of undertaking the tour this year. Last year, Uddhav, along with his son and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, had toured the western suburbs on May 14 to oversee the nullah-cleaning work. The tours are presented as the Sena’s concern for the city.
Sena leaders, however, said the plan for Uddhav’s inspection tour had not been finalised yet. “Nothing has been finalised as yet. We will let you know once it is finalised. But local Sena leaders will be visiting the nullah-cleaning work across the city,” said Trushna Vishwasrao, senior Sena corporator and leader of the House in the civic body.
Sena leaders said local shakha pramukhs and corporators would be actively inspecting the progress of nullah cleaning. “They have also been asked to give report on the same,” said a Sena corporator.
Shiv Sena has been blamed entirely for last year’s Rs 150 crore desilting scam, which was unearthed after the city witnessed floods on June 19. The BJP, the Sena’s alliance partner in the BMC, has been targeting it on various scams, including this one.
The Sena has played safe this year about the nullah-cleaning work, saying it’s the civic administration’s responsibility to ensure there is no flooding.
On Tuesday, Mayor Snehal Ambekar wrote to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta asking him to organise the visits to ensure that nullah-cleaning work was completed. “If this year Mumbai faces flood-like situation like last year, he (Mehta) will be solely responsible as head of the civic administration,” she wrote.
“The political environment is changing very fast nowadays. Those who have been sharing power with us for the last 15 years are training guns on us for the desilting scam and other issues. That is why we are taking this step of asking civic chief to ensure that nullah cleaning is carried out properly,” said Vishwarao.
Meanwhile, city BJP president Ashish Shelar, along with 13 BJP corporators, visited several nullahs in the city last week. The NCP has also been protesting, claiming that the nullah-cleaning work is not on track.