August 23, 2021 3:53:57 pm
Even as Opposition parties like the NCP and the Shiv Sena have been demanding the dissolution of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) after four civic employees and Standing Committee chief Nitin Landge were arrested on charges of taking bribe, the PCMC administration Monday said it was working on making the system better and more transparent.
“Most of our functioning is now online. We are reducing the scope of offline transactions. As we increase digitisation, the scope of corruption will also reduce,” Municipal Commissioner Rajesh Patil told The Indian Express.
Last week, the Anti-Corruption Bureau arrested Landge, chief clerk Dnyaneshwar Pingle, clerk Vijay Chavariak, computer operator Rajendra Shinde and peon Arvind Kamble for allegedly taking bribe from a civic contractor to sign an agreement and issue a work order. All five are in ACB custody. The PCMC administration has suspended the employees pending a departmental inquiry.
“If anyone in PCMC is demanding money, people should not pay it. Instead, they should lodge complaints against such individuals,” Patil said.
Former members of the Standing Committee allege that the Committee demands money for signing agreements with contractors so that the contractor can proceed with the development work he had bagged through the tender process. Asked whether this process can be made more transparent, the PCMC chief said, “We are looking at how it can be improved”.
Contractors also allege that PCMC officials seek money for clearing bills. Patil has promised to look into the matter and improve things within his jurisdiction. “However, there are certain rules regarding the Standing Committee which need to be looked at seriously so that the system becomes more transparent and we can avoid such scenarios. It is a long process and will take time.”
Meanwhile, NCP leaders like MLA Anna Bansode and former MLA Vilas Lande met party chief Sharad Pawar Sunday and apprised him of the situation in PCMC following the arrest of five employees. Pawar has reportedly assured them that he will take up the issue with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. “We discussed the latest issue of bribery in PCMC as well as other civic issues. Our party has decided to hold a meeting in the city in the next 15 days,” Bansode said.
Civic activists have been demanding to set up an office of the Anti-Corruption Bureau at the PCMC headquarters or in the city. Activist Maruti Bhapar has written to the PCMC Commissioner on the matter. “If it is not possible to set up an ACB office in PCMC headquarters, it should be set up close to the PCMC headquarters so that people can get easy access to ACB officials. This will certainly serve as a deterrent,” he said.
But the Municipal Commissioner disagreed. “I don’t think it will make a difference. There are some people who will find other ways to take money,” he said.
Officials said in 2017 the personal secretary of the then PCMC commissioner Dinesh Waghmare was caught red-handed while taking a bribe of Rs 12 lakh. Last week’s incident is being cited as the first one in the corporation’s history in which the most powerful civic committee’s head has been caught taking a bribe.
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