Thursday, September 23, 2021
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BJP raising corruption issue for deriving political mileage

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e as a Mumbaikars are well aware that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is one of the most and highly corrupt corporation. They are here minting money and encouraging illegal establishments and works. Now ahead of elections BJP MP Kirit Somaiya has been targeting the Shiv Sena over “corruption” in BMC actually makes no sense. Till yesterday, he was mum over the issue as this is not the new one. Since BJP came into power the corruption graph has inclined. Now, Somaiya described Ravan as the “BMC mafia” which apparently irked the Shiv Sainiks because the timing chosen by BJP leader indicates mere politics. They are trying to gain “undue political benefits” by demanding probe into various civic projects in view of 2017 civic elections. Now, BJP speaks about corruption in BMC. However, they were silence from last 20 years (BJP and Sena are allied in BMC and ruling it). Moreover BJP always has speaks double standards. If they are making Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal for anything happened in Delhi then they should blame Maharashtra CM Fadnavis for Mumbai’s affairs. Opposition in BMC, Congress and NCP also not found any wrongdoings in corporation. BJP’s timing indicates its mere politics.

At an anti-corruption meeting, NAPM activist pointed out that the commonest form of corruption — which is rarely detected and almost never punished — is the deliberate failure by officials to take action. Law-abiding citizens are frustrated when authorities take no action against violators, even when written complaints and evidences are submitted to them. Or they take action in a defective way that guarantees that the action fails. Sometimes, they prematurely drop the matter or withdraw the action, letting the wrong-doers go scot-free. The citizens get frustrated by such tricks. In this connection, there is a very useful circular issued in 2003, which can be of great help to Mumbaikars. This circular specifies maximum and minimum punishment for BMC employees who turn their faces when unauthorized works are carried out in their jurisdiction. This circular was issued under the signature of the Municipal Commissioner.

BJP and its leaders should use this circular to exert pressure on the disciplinary authorities to punish municipal employees who are guilty of such actions. Ask your own government how many municipal employees in Mumbai have been punished so far as outlined by the circular in 2003? BMC has admitted before RTI activists and the High Court that buildings that violate the law are too many to enumerate. If so, hundreds or thousands of corrupt municipal employees should have been punished since November 2003 till date. BJP is in power, they can make civic authorities accountable for every corruption than politicizing the issue to benefit them.

There were reports in media about the new development control rules introduced two years ago leave no scope for manipulation or illegality in building plans. So, engineers intentionally delay sanctioning projects to impose pressure on builders to pay up. Any delay in starting a building project could cause severe loss to developers, who procure loans at interest rates as high as 24 per cent. Corrupt officials in the BMC’s building proposals department are extorting huge sums from developers to clear legal projects. The situation is such that recently a group of 25 top builders met to decide on approaching senior department officials to seek reasonable bribe rates. Corruption in the construction industry increased manifold after the development control rules were amended in 2011 to curb the discretionary powers of officials to favour certain builders. BJP is ruling the state from last two years but they are yet to address this issue, rather they too collected huge funds from them for election funding.

In 2012, the civic administration issued a circular to speed up building approvals, curb corruption and fix responsibility for delays. But it was conveniently buried. Former Municipal Commissioner Subodh Kumar issued it after complaints that officials delayed approvals by seeking irrelevant information, forcing developers to part with bribes. However, over the years, a gang of professional blackmailers claiming to be RTI activists have connived with BMC engineers to extort money from builders. A false complaint to the BMC could stall work for a couple of months. Any delay results in losses. A builder prefers to pay up. Sometimes, civic officers themselves ask developers to amicably settle the issue with these people. BMC employees are hand-in-glove with extortionists and could well be guiding them.

From peeing and pooing on the roads, to street side vendors, households, small business to giants of this city fall victim to BMC corruption but to avoid legal hassles and also save time, they pay and get rid of unwanted consequences. Corruption prevailing in BMC can never end unless the ruling party government seriously takes harsh initiatives. Almost, all the major parties ruled both state and BMC but the issue of corruption is on the rise.

 (Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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