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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

As PCMC battles corruption taint, civic body chief says working on making system fully transparent

Last week, the arrests were made by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on charges of taking bribe from a civic contractor in connection with signing of an agreement and issuance of a work order.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune |
Updated: August 24, 2021 7:43:22 am
Corruption allegations in PCMC standing committee: Nitin Landge, 4 others get bail; ACB to summon all panel membersThe standing committee members, who had been inaccessible after the ACB raids, are reportedly in a state of tizzy. On Wednesday, only one of them turned up for the weekly meeting which was later adjourned for want of a quorum. (File Photo)

EVEN AS Opposition parties like the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Shiv Sena are demanding dissolution of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) after four of its employees along with its civic standing committee chief Nitin Landge were arrested on charges of taking bribe, the civic body administration has said it was working on improving the system and making it more transparent.

“Most of our functioning has become online. We are reducing the scope of offline transactions or functioning. As we increase online functioning, the scope of corruption will go on reducing,” Municipal Commissioner Rajesh Patil told The Indian Express on Monday.

Last week, the arrests were made by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on charges of taking bribe from a civic contractor in connection with signing of an agreement and issuance of a work order. The four employees — chief clerk Dnyaneshwar Pingle, clerk Vijay Chavariak, computer operator Rajendra Shinde and peon Arvind Kamble — have been suspended by the PCMC administration pending departmental enquiry. While Landge has been granted interim bail, the others have been remanded to judicial custody.

Referring to the arrests, Patil said, “If anyone is demanding money from PCMC’s side, people should also not pay it. Instead, they should lodge complaints against such people.”

Former standing committee members alleged that money is demanded by the standing committee for signing agreements with contractors so that they could proceed with development work, which they had bagged through the tender process. Asked whether this process could become transparent, the PCMC chief said, “We are looking at it as to how to improve it…”

On allegations by contractors that PCMC officials demand money from them in lieu of clearing the bills, Patil said, “Whatever is within my jurisdiction, I will ensure that things improve and become transparent there. 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 could avoid such scenarios. It is a long process and will need some time.”

Regarding the demand from civic activists for setting up an office of the ACB in PCMC headquarters or somewhere in the city, Patil said, “I don’t think it will make a difference. There are some people who will find other ways to take money.”

Civic activist Maruti Bhapar said he has written a letter to the PCMC commissioner, urging him to get an ACB office set up either in PCMC headquarters or somewhere close to it in the city. “The ACB office will serve as a deterrent. If it is not possible to set up an ACB office in PCMC headquarters, then it should be set up close to it so that people can get easy access to anti-graft officials. This will certainly serve as a deterrent,” he said.

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Even as last week’s incident is being cited as first in the history of PCMC where the “most powerful” civic committee’s chairman has been caught taking bribe, officials said in 2017, personal secretary of then PCMC commissioner Dinesh Waghmare was caught red-handed while taking Rs 12 lakh as bribe in the parking lot of PCMC headquarters.

Meanwhile, NCP leaders including MLA Anna Bansode and former legislator Vilas Lande met party chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday and apprised him “of the situation in PCMC” following the arrest of the 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 graft in PCMC as well as other civic issues. Our party has decided to hold a meeting in the regard in the city in the next 15 days,” said Bansode.

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