May 6, 2009 4:12:26 am
Govt makes it a must for civic bodies; Band had introduced the plan 5 years back
Pune Divisional Commissioner Dilip Band’s strong stand against autorickshawallahs has sent them on a protest. But Band has been unrelenting so far. A similiar no-nonsense approach of Band during his tenure as Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner paved the way for “quality projects” in the town.
That was five years back. And now the Band concept is set to travel all over the state. Five years after the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation introduced the “technical audit” system,the state government has decided to make it applicable to all municipal corporations and municipal councils across the state. A government resolution to this effect was passed on March 2 and had been sent to all the civic bodies in the state. The Pune Municipal Corporation and the PCMC received the copy of the GR last week.
The GR states that a civic body should appoint an engineering college to play the role of a watchdog. “If it is not able to appoint an engineering college,the civic body should rope in a third party for carrying out the technical audit,” the GR said. The “technical audit” involves appointment of a third party for inspection of civic projects in order to keep a tab on the quality of work as they progress. The PCMC was the first civic body in the state to appoint a private firm to monitor the quality of its works. The PMC too had followed suit. “We started implementing the third party audit of our projects around four years back,” said PMC city engineer Prashant Waghmare.
Confirming that PMC has received the copy of the state GR,Waghmare said,”The system has paid dividends which can be gauged from the quality of civic works like roads and flyovers. We had appointed EIL to keep hawk’s eye on the works.” The PCMC paid 0.4 per cent amount of the total project cost to the third party firm while the PMC paid 1.5 per cent amount.
Applauding the government move,Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Ashish Sharma said though there is pressure from certain quarters to stop the system,the PCMC will continue with third party inspection. “The system has worked. We will continue with it since it has assured quality of work,” Sharma said. “It’s nice to hear that Pimpri pattern is being implemented in the state. Since we already have the system in place,we don’t have to do anything.”
P V Kulkarni,officer on special duty with JNUURM cell of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation,said they have a technical audit which is only for JNNURM projects. “Not for all civic projects,but for some of the projects such system is there in BMC,” he said.
Corporator-turned activist Maruti Bhapkar said the appointment of a third party to check quality of work broke the stranglehold of the officers. “In Pimpri-Chinchwad,the quality of works gradually showed improvement,but again it all fell in the rut. The third party technical audit failed to live up to the expectations of the citizens. It seemed like that they could be made to toe the official line,” he said. Instead of third party inspection,said Bhapkar,the state government should appoint a committee of experts headed by a retired justice. “I can strongly say that the manipulation of such a committee is not possible unlike the third party inspection which powerful civic officers can make them toe their line,” he said.
When Band had introduced the concept of third party inspection,it had drawn praise from activists but it caused nervous jitters among officialdom who were known to approve projects without deeply probing into the quality aspect. Despite opposition from several quarters,Band had then refused to buckle under pressure. “The system set new standards. People became quality conscious,” Band told The Indian Express on Tuesday. “Before the technical audit system was made mandantory,a junior engineer used to give his consent for technical aspect of the project before it took off,” said Band.
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