Nagpur: Corruption reigns supreme in Nagpur Municipal Corporation is no news. Its babus and office-bearers have gone dormant and shirking their responsibilities is the news. Here nothing moves unless citizens greased the palms of staff. Even for essential services like water supply, citizens have to pay through their nose. That the NMC is ‘sick’ and making the city ‘sick’ is the bitter truth, and, also the news. Development is taking place but on papers only. In fact, there is not a penny for ‘real’ development. The development done goes defunct within months and shows its ugly face one way or the other. The newly laid or repaired roads is a classic example of all this mess.
The rains have come and bared the truth. Roads are riddled with potholes of different sizes depicting the size of corruption in NMC’s departments. Faced with complaints, the Chairman of Standing Committee Sudhir Raut hit few of newly constructed roads and inspected them as routine on a Sunday. He put his foot down and directed the officials to submit a report within seven days. He even showed his readiness to put the concerned contractor in black list if found guilty. But this is not the first time that the contractors are taking the beating from an ‘angry’ office-bearer. The outburst is just s show-off to send a message “We don’t tolerate corruption.”
In fact, when new breed of educated unemployed youths wish to start contractorship and comes to NMC’s Public Works Department, he has to grease the palms of babus just for registration. And when he is awarded a work, he messes with the development works as a sort of retaliation. In NMC, there is no such process called report on quality of works nor the Municipal Commissioner presses for it. Completion certificates are issued without inspection and bills are also cleared but with “inspection” how much weight is thrust on palms.
Recently, the Municipal Commissioner and Head of Public Works Department Executive Engineer Dilip Jamgade received a complaint regarding registration for contractorship. The complaint had mentioned that the President of NMC Contractors Association Vijay Naidu has shown two other contractors of NMC Bhupesh C Sontakke and Sanjay Mupidwar as his employees. But the NMC Administration conveniently neglected the fact. On the other hand, the Executive Engineer Dilip Jamgade summoned from his assistant Deputy Engineer oral and written explanation over the issue but the Deputy Engineer did not take any trouble to reply to the complainant’s letter. The attitude of the Deputy Engineer shows that the complaint holds water or the officials deployed in one department for years do not follow the orders of higher authorities. On the other hand, Jamgade, while terming the complaint prima facie correct, had said that if the allegations are proved to be right then registration of one of them should be cancelled in accordance with the rules. But for this action, rules must first rule the roost in NMC!!
It is practice in NMC that works above Rs 25 lakh are sent to Standing Committee for its approval. And the commission part plays the vital role in approving the works. The figures of commission vary from 10 to 20 percent depending upon the “terms and conditions” of works such as site visits, positive reports etc. No surprise the victim is quality of work. And the roads riddled with potholes is the result. Then the show of inspection of roads is planned as a publicity stunt and announcement of strict action against guilty officials, blacklisting contractors is made in harsh tones in order to escape the wrath of citizens and also for receiving pats on their backs. Such show goes on and on.
But when the system itself is at fault nothing is going to improve. The only hope could be the backlash by the enraged citizens and petitions in courts like the one which saw Municipal Commissioner removing a pandal that had encroached a road near a religious place (Meetha Neem) to escape stern action from High Court.