Amid speculations over his transfer as municipal commissioner of Pimpri-Chinchwad, Shravan Hardikar has found support from leaders cutting across the party lines.
Former chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said it would be unfortunate if Hardikar was transferred at a time when the administration has succeeded in curbing Covid-19 cases. “If attempts are made to transfer Hardikar, then it will be highly unfortunate. I have been getting feedback from Congress leaders in Pimpri-Chinchwad that because of the efforts of the civic administration, Covid-19 cases have not shot up. If Hardikar-led administration has succeeded in its plan, then there is no reason why he should be transferred,” Chavan said, adding that he will discuss the matter with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Stating that he has not heard about any such move, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, “Why would the government transfer an officer whose city has succeeded in tackling the Covid-19 situation. I am also against any such move. Hardikar should ideally be allowed to continue. I had received a complaint against him from local Sena MP Shrirang Barne months back, but off late I have not received any complaint.”
Meanwhile, Maval MP Shrirang Barne said transfers were the prerogative of the government. “Even Panvel civic chief was transferred, though the city had seen fewer cases than Pimpri-Chinchwad,” he said.
BJP Pimpri-Chinchwad president Mahesh Landge said, “I was surprised the government can plan any such move at this critical juncture. If a new officer is brought in now, he or she will be clueless. Besides, the current PCMC administration has done a good job while handling the Covid-19 situation…”
NCP leader Nana Kate, opposition leader in PCMC House, said, “I have heard about the plan to transfer Hardikar. I spoke to him today and he said he too had no clue about it. NCP is against Hardikar’s transfer as his administration has played an effective role in controlling the spread of infection…”
When contacted, Hardikar said, “I have heard the speculations about my transfer. I have completed my three year tenure. I am ready to go wherever the government transfers me. I have no preferences.”
Though his handling of the water crisis had drawn fire from residents and activists in Pimpri-Chinchwad, the Hardikar administration has however come in for praise for the way it has handled the COVID-19 situation. Compared to Pune city where coronavirus cases have seen rapid rise, Pimpri-Chinchwad has not seen much rise except in the last few days when over 100 cases were reported from Anandnagar slum. The industrial city has also reached the double-digit mark when it comes death of COVID-19 patients.
The civic administration has been attributing its success to strict enforcement of lockdown norms in conjunction with the police and the public awareness campaign that it carried out. “We don’t want to compared ourselves with Pune city because it is much bigger than us. Though we are smaller, we have done are our best to ensure that there is no major spread of the infection. Our strategy to enforce strict lockdown has paid off. Even the deaths that we have seen include those who arrived late to hospital or had severe morbid conditions,” said PCMC Additional Commissioner Santosh Patil, one the key players of Hardikar’s team handling the COVID-19 cases. Others include health chiefs Dr Pavan Savale, Anil Roy, and YCMH dean Dr Rajendra Wable.
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