After the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) came under fire for distributing poor-quality masks in slums and low-income areas, Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar on Saturday set up a three-member committee to probe the matter.
“…We will take strict action against those responsible for this. No one will be spared,” Hardikar told The Indian Express.
The civic administration was forced to set up the committee after PCMC corporators, during the general body meeting, highlighted the poor quality of masks distributed free of cost among the poor. The corporators, led by NCP leaders Mangala Kadam and Datta Sane, also alleged that soaps distributed in low-income areas were purchased at a much higher rate by the civic body. It was Datta Sane who had first raised the issue two weeks ago.
Hardikar said, “I am shocked at the quality of masks that we received… In the beginning, some lots had masks of good quality. But the masks that came in later… were of pathetic quality”. The PCMC chief said once the probe is over, he will reveal details on the sources the masks were purchased from.
He said days before wearing masks was made mandatory across the country, the PCMC had taken the initiative to make them mandatory in its jurisdiction and also decided to impose a fine of Rs 500 on those not wearing them. “The widespread use of masks by local residents has helped us curb the spread of the infection,” said Hardikar.
In congested areas such as slums, where social distancing is difficult, PCMC had decided to distribute free masks. “We also distributed them in chawls and other low-income areas…,” said the civic chief.
As for the allegation that soaps were purchased at a much higher cost, Hardikar said there was no truth in it. “The soaps are of good quality and purchased at lower rates. We distributed them among the poor and urged them to frequently wash their hands to keep coronavirus at bay,” he said.
Meanwhile, the civic standing committee has decided to reduce the amount of fine imposed on residents for not wearing a mask in public places to Rs 200.
Doctors get pay hike
Days after they held a protest demanding equal work and equal pay, as many as 33 junior resident doctors have been given a pay hike of Rs 25,000 by the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation. “We are committed to taking care of our Covid warriors. Our entire medical team, including doctors and nurses, are putting in their best efforts in these difficult times. And it is our duty to take care of them. We have given the 33 junior residents a pay hike,” said Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar.
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