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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Mumbai Underground

The Anti Corruption Bureau has recently gone into overdrive with its mission to curb corruption.

| Mumbai | Published: December 8, 2014 3:55:19 am
As their school building is under renovation, students of a Navi Mumbai municipal school attend classes at a nearby hall. (Source: Express photo by Narendra Vaskar) As their school building is under renovation, students of a Navi Mumbai municipal school attend classes at a nearby hall. (Source: Express photo by Narendra Vaskar)

‘Professional’ rivalry
The rapprochement between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena has thrown up a never-before scenario in Maharashtra politics – an elected legislator and the contestant she defeated have both got berths in Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s team. BJP’s Vidya Thakur, who created an upset of sorts by unseating Shiv Sena’s Subhash Desai from the Goregaon Assembly constituency, was rewarded with a minister-of-state (MOS) berth when the Fadnavis government took over on October 31. Desai was sworn in as a cabinet minister on Friday. This is the first time in the state’s history  that the state council of ministers would have two faces representing the same assembly constituency. What’s more, Thakur will have to play second fiddle to Desai, a Cabinet minister.  No wonder they say nothing is impossible in politics.

A weighty apology
The Colaba police station received a rather special apology last week.   Officers had to themselves visit a swanky nightclub at Apollo Bunder and force its shutters down after they found it violating the 1.30am deadline. The proprietors allegedly got away earlier with some help from the police station, but seniors were now stepping in to crack the whip. One inspector was even temporarily transferred for allegedly failing to ensure that the pub shuts on time. Last week, a senior officer found the pub still flouting the deadline, and eventually forced the nightclub to down shutters for the next three days. Expecting no further trouble, the officer was therefore surprised to receive a call from a former politician known for his ties with Bollywood. Not only did the politician apologise on behalf of the club’s proprietors, he also went on to assure the officer that henceforth, the club would adhere to the deadline.

A respectful giveaway
Senior plainclothes Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel are not worried about suspicious passengers, staff or potential tricksters at the airport, but their own juniors. Unlike other locations where not getting a salute from a junior could be insulting, senior CISF personnel in plainclothes or uniform surveying the airport are constantly trying to teach their juniors to stop saluting. The juniors, some in plainclothes themselves or others in uniform, inadvertently and out of habit seem to offer a salute to their  seniors, giving themselves away and attracting curious looks from passengers. Now, junior CISF personnel have been instructed to just stiffen their arms in attention, if they must, instead, so the seniors or themselves are not easily identified.

‘Sab chalta hai’
The Anti Corruption Bureau has recently gone into overdrive with its mission to curb corruption. Posters appealing to people to avoid paying bribes, urging them to report bribe seekers immediately and warning government servants of the consequences of demanding or accepting bribes can be seen everywhere. One such poster by the ACB, Thane, depicts a bribe seeker going straight to jail. Only, the poster was promptly defaced. Someone, suspected to be a troubled citizen, scrawled a line across the poster, reading, yahaan sab kuch chalta hai (Everything is allowed here).

Security check
Rajesh Aggarwal, principal secretary of the Information Technology Department, never goes easy on banks that compromise the security of their customers while adjudicating cases filed under the Information Technology Act. And the most frequent complaint is of customers losing their money after their debit card PIN numbers are compromised. However, Aggarwal had a similar care of his own recently. Having returned from a recent week-long holiday, the bureaucrat was shocked to find a letter from his bank containing his debit card lying on the floor outside his front door. If he thought that was a close call, weeks later, having returned home from a two-day absence, he found another letter from the bank – this time containing his debit card pin number. The only reason the letters did not fall into the wrong hands is because Aggarwal has former Maharashtra Director General of Police, Ajit Parasnis, for a neighbour. Under the watch of Parasnis’ guards, both letters stayed where they were.

A scale for graft
That the building proposals department is the BMC’s most sought-after posting for the whopping under-the-table remuneration it provides is no secret. Nor is the fact that the Slum Rehabilitation Authority is branded as among the most corruption-ridden state government agencies. However, following a recent meeting of the Authority held by the CM, the first in ten years, real estate sources testify that it is the SRA that takes the cake on the graft index. Top most officials of the building proposals departments charge a maximum of Rs 150 for per sq ft of approvals granted. However, when it comes to senior SRA officials, developers attest to the fact that they have to cough up nothing less than Rs 250 per square ft of construction area sanctioned, rates that are almost equal to the market rentals of some of the plushest Nariman Point office complexes.

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