Thursday, May 04, 2017

‘Nanded civic officials face prosecution’.

Times of India: Aurangabad: Thursday, May 4, 2017.
Several officials in the Nanded-Waghala civic body are facing prosecution for irregularities based on the Munde committee report, an RTI activist said on Wednesday.
The activist, Shaikh Ubaid Ba-Hussain, said the urban development department (UDD) provided the information to him after he filed an appeal seeking details of the inquiry report.
"However, the UDD official who revealed the information refused to provide a copy of the government-instituted inquiry conducted by an upright IAS officer, Tukaram Munde, saying that it may hamper the investigations," said Shaikh.
The activist said that he had already cited several National Information Commission (NIC) and high court judgments to the appealing officer to assert that the authorities cannot withhold information.
Shaikh said that after the information officer, Sanjay Warang, refused to provide him with information, including the Munde committee report citing section 8 (1) (J) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, he had filed an appeal with deputy secretary (urban development), Sudhakar Bobade.
On April 28, Bobade conducted a hearing where both Warang and Shaikh were present and directed Warang to provide information on four of the five points within 15 days.
"Bobade also told Warang to provide a copy of the order asking Munde to inquire into the civic body bunglings; date and time-wise details of the inquiry process; copies of correspondence between Nanded-Waghala civic body and the Mantralaya related to the inquiry and the correspondence between the district collectorate and the chief minister's office on representation by the Aam Aadmi Party," said Shaikh.
"However the appealing authority Bobade too refused to provide a copy of the Munde committee inquiry report," he said.
The activist said he had made representation to the government seeking in-depth inquiry into the functioning of the cash-strapped civic body, which had indulged in overspending without following due procedures.
"For instance, work involving removal of silt from river was initially proposed at a whopping Rs 1.70 crore and subsequently it was inflated to Rs 2.70 crore and the work was allotted following the process of law. Similarly, the civic body planned a stadium work at a cost of Rs 11 lakh, which eventually was inflated to over Rs 2 crore without any due tender process," said Shaikh.
The activist also alleged that the civic body constructed 1,100 borewells on record, but there were actually around 300. All these bungling in Nanded civic body were required to be probed and the state government appointed Tukaram Munde for the job.
Several officials had made unauthorized payments misappropriating the civic body funds, which were investigated by the Munde committee, alleged Shaikh.
"Wrongdoings in the civic body would expose nefarious nexus in the city body if the inquiry report is made public. Hence, these officials, who are on the verge of retirement, were trying to suppress the findings," he said.
Shaikh said he would approach the chief information commissioner's (CIC) office and then even the high court if the CIC does not hear his plea.
While providing copies of his representation to the appealing officer as well as the officials' RTI replies, Shaikh said, "The information officer himself had stated the possibility of several officers facing prosecution for causing huge financial losses to the Nanded civic body and for misappropriating public money".