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Time PWD started working like a professional body: HC

The Bombay High Court has said it is time for the state Public Works Department (PWD) to change its mindset and begin working like a professional body.

In a recent order, a bench led by Justice S C Dharmadhikari rapped the PWD for the slow pace at which it was carrying out construction work for a new court building at Mazgaon in south Mumbai.

The bench said the PWD in Maharashtra needed to learn a lesson from third party technical experts who were assisting it in the construction of the new court building.

“The Public Works Department will have to change its mindset, particularly when it is dealing with professional experts. It ought to learn a lesson or two from such experts,” the bench said.

The “dismal performance” of this department can be improved only if it takes a cue from such third party experts and begins to behave like a professional body itself, the court said.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by the Mazgaon Court Bar Association, seeking that the state be directed to expedite the construction of the court building in view of the hardships being faced by lawyers and litigants.

The five-storey Mazgaon court building was vacated in July, 2013, just seven years after its inauguration.

An inspection report had deemed it unsafe and since then, eight courtrooms in the Sewri court premises have been hosting all operations of the Mazgaon court.

In the hearing conducted last month, a team of technical experts, appointed by the state to assist the PWD in constructing the new premises, submitted a site inspection report in the HC stating that the ongoing work had gone beyond its schedule.

The report stated the work was progressing at a “snails pace” and that if the PWD did not take remedial measures soon, even the piling and foundation work would not be complete before this years monsoon.

“The conclusions in the report of technical experts indicate that the PWD has failed to consider the onset of monsoon and its impact on the piling work. The rain will further delay the work and add to expenses,” the bench said.

It, therefore, directed the PWD to depute a trained engineer to consult with the technical experts and draw up a new schedule for completing the piling and foundation related work.

The bench also directed the PWD to complete the piling work and level all the dug up pits at the site by June 10 this year to prevent water-logging and related problems during the rainy season.

After the evacuation, the PWD took around three years merely to demolish the dilapidated court building at Mazgaon.

This was despite the high court passing several orders directing the agency to fast track such work and to stick to a schedule for the new construction.

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