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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Ruling BJP slams PCMC chief for ‘resisting’ cash benefit scheme for poor, calls him anti-poor

Denying the "anti-poor" charge, Patil said the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act has no provision for civic bodies to extend direct cash benefit to the citizens

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune |
Updated: June 4, 2021 10:44:41 am
Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Comissioner Rajesh PatilPimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Comissioner Rajesh Patil (Express photo)

The BJP on Thursday accused Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Rajesh Patil of being anti-poor and thwarting the party’s bid to extend cash help to the poor.

Mayor Usha Dhore said, “During the pandemic and lockdown, the poor have been hit hard. Many have lost their jobs and earnings. So, as a human gesture, the BJP had decided to give Rs 3,000 to the poor, including autorickshaw drivers, barbers and street vendors. But the PCMC commissioner, after repeatedly promising that he would act on our request, has now reneged on the promise.”

Patil, however, pointed to the rule book saying that the Maharashtra Corporation Act does not allow civic bodies to provide direct cash benefits to economically weaker sections.

BJP House leader Namdev Dhake said, “The BJP had made the announcement to provide Rs 3,000 to the poor only after the issue was discussed with Commissioner Patil. After he gave a verbal approval, we got the resolution passed by the standing committee and the general body. But instead of starting the distribution of the financial aid, Patil wrote a letter to the Divisional Commissioner regarding the issue…he should have sent the letter to the state government’s Urban Development Department.”

Dhake and Dhore said Patil has the power to provide Rs 3,000 cash benefit to the poor in circumstances like the current situation.

Dhake said, “The Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act clearly mentions the responsibilities and rights of Municipal Commissioner. Under Section 66 of the Act, the commissioner has the powers to initiate measures to alleviate miseries of citizens during a time of disaster. Accordingly, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the civic chief is well within his rights to initiate measures to help poor citizens.”

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Dhore said, “It is mandatory on the commissioner to implement the decision of the civic general body…Whenever we met the municipal commissoner, he never said ‘No!.’ He was always positive about extending help. But suddenly, he sent a letter on May 11 to the divisional commissioner instead of the state government. This was an attempt to delay the help. It seems the commissioner is not at all interested in extending help to the poor, he is anti-poor. He seems to be working under pressure from certain quarters.”

Reacting to the BJP’s allegations, the PCMC chief said, “Under the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act, there is no provision to extend direct cash benefit to citizens. Under Section 63 and 66 of the Act, the PCMC cannot provide direct financial benefit to economically weaker sections of society….We cannot implement the decision to provide Rs 3,000 to the citizens.”

NCP corporator Raju Misal, who is the opposition leader in PCMC, said, “Though the decision to extend Rs 3,000 assistance to the poor is a good one, the BJP went ahead and announced it without checking the rule book. The ruling BJP is trying to target the commissioner, which is an attempt to cover up its failure.”

Shiv Sena corporator Rahul Kalate said, “The BJP was trying to play to the gallery by making an announcement, which has no provision in the law. The commissioner has taken the right decision by rejecting the implementation of the decision.”

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