PCMC demolition drive kept industrial town on the edgehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pcmc-demolition-drive-kept-industrial-town-on-the-edge/

PCMC demolition drive kept industrial town on the edge

Over 500 structures razed since June ’12

The Year 2013 will go down in the history of the industrial town of Pimpri-Chinchwad as the one that saw strongest possible action initiated by the civic administration against illegal constructions. As a result,in the last six months,nobody — not even builders known for brazenly setting up illegal structures — have dared to raise an inch of illegal construction in Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Morchas have been carried out and protests staged,civic general body meetings were adjourned several times and standing committee meetings ended without transaction of any business,state legislature has been rocked,MLAs have resigned and corporators quit in a desperate bid to halt the drive against illegal constructions launched by Municipal Commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi days after he took charge in June 2012.

Much to the “dismay” of citizens and politicians,no amount of pressure — not even from Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar who holds sway in the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation,and “seven life threats” to Pardeshi — has failed to stop the demolition drive. During the last one-and-a-half years,the PCMC administration has flattened over 500 structures — including over 2,200 flats — and has filed FIRs against 2,000 people,including builders.

The PCMC action is being described as the only-of-its-kind in Maharashtra. The neighbouring Pune Municipal Corporation,too,has not been able to match up.

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Besides causing jitters through his drive,Pardeshi also tried to “bring in discipline” and “end corruption” in the civic functioning by transferring officials who had remained in the same position for years. So far,over 300 senior officials and lower grade employees have been shifted.

The civic chief has also not spared officials who faced charges. On his last day in office,a probe was initiated against a PCMC health chief and his perks held back following allegations of irregularities. Several officials faced action on a mere complaint from the citizens.

Fearing action,some officials even took voluntary retirement.

The drive against illegal constructions has been described as an acrimonious battle between Pardeshi administration on one hand and residents,activists and politicians on the other. “Since he has taken action against officials as well,they also want him out…” said Sanjeevani Pandey,an activist. So far,Pardeshi has won all the rounds. However,with the state government declaring its intention to bring in an ordinance to regularise illegal constructions in a month’s time,residents may have the last laugh.

Justifying his action against illegal constructions,Pardeshi has often said: “Whatever I am doing is as per the Bombay High Court’s directives.”

As for action against officials and staff,the civic chief has said he was determined to end the “contractor raj” existing in the PCMC.

Along with illegal construction,the last five months have also been dominated by responses to the SARATHI helpline launched by the PCMC,which has cut the corporators to size. Residents no longer have to rush to corporators to get their work done or seek information regarding civic functioning,services or procedures for making an application. In a short time,SARATHI has become popular. On an average,it receives 152 calls per day and 361

hits on its website. In fact,PCMC e-governance model this year drew national attention what with officials from different states descending

on Pimpri-Chinchwad to experience the changes.