Nagpur: The 70-minute delayed General Body Meeting of Nagpur Municipal Corporation on Thursday witnessed noisy scenes and Opposition walkout over flawed distribution of funds and other contentious issues. War of words was also erupted between the Ruling and Opposition members over inordinate delay in the construction of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Birth Anniversary Memorial and Research Centre at Yashwant Stadium. Mayor Nanda Jichkar chaired the meeting.
The NMC’s General Body Meeting was to start at 11 am at Town Hall in Mahal. But the Mayor Nanda Jichkar was busy at a programme held at Government Press. It resulted in the meeting starting 70 minutes late. At the outset, a condolence resolution was read out by NMC Secretary Harish Dubey and homage was paid to BJP leader and Union Minister Anantha Kumar, singer Mohd Aziz, former MLA Yadavrao Bhoyar, journalist Manjari Bhatnagar, former Union Minister Jaffer Sharif, Chintaman Iwnate, and Madhu Anubhav Shiksharthi.
The GBM later congratulated the five newly elected Chief Ministers of states where Assembly elections were held recently, BSP leader Mohd Jamal for creating Guinness record in rendering ‘shero shayari’.
Gorewada Lake pollution:
The serious business started when Congress members Darshani Dhawad and Harish Gwalvanshi raised the issue of contamination of Gorewada Lake water and non-implementation of Mayor’s directives in this regard. Dhawad said in previous meeting (December 7, 2018) the issue regarding polluted water of Gorewada Lake was raised. Since then none of the members of Water Works Department has contacted me about the issue. Even if some steps have been taken in the matter that I have not been informed about it. Despite taking up a serious issue of the polluted water at the Gorewada Lake, no action has been taken by the department.
This clearly means that the Mayor does not have a hold on the authorities and the matter is being taken very lightly. It has to be reminded that the water from Gorawada Lake is consumed by about half of the Nagpur population. In Dabha area, there is a Hill View society, the sewage water of which is collected in a large ditch dug by a JCB. The sewage water is collected in the ditch and is purified but it ultimately gets mixed up in the lake, Dhawad said. However, both Dhawad, Gwalvanshi and Sandeep Sahare too got furious when they received no response. Sensing the mood of the members, the Municipal Commissioner Abhijit Bangar directed the officials to visit the lake along with concerned Corporators within two days and submit report.
Closed public wells:
During Question Hour, Adv Nishant Gandhi raised the issues of 191 public wells and demanded tests of the well water and its proper utilisation. All these wells should be properly covered to avoid frequent cleaning and spending too much money for it. Senior Corporator Abha Pande demanded White Paper on water situation. She said maximum portion of the city is facing water scarcity. Presently, several areas are receiving contaminated water. The civic body has failed to give satisfactory solution of water scarcity in the city, she said. The Mayor directed the NMC administration to apprise the member about steps taken to deal with the water situation.
Former Mayor Pravin Datke, Water Works Committee Pintu Jhalke, Congress member Nitin Sathavane raised the issue of mushrooming illegal hoardings across the city. They slammed the administration which takes action against encroachments on footpaths but turning a blind eye towards illegal hoarding erected on big buildings, squares, electric poles. The members demanded the administration to take action against violators of NMC’s outdoor policy.
If the Advertisement Department is centralised, NMC can earn a revenue of Rs 50 crore annually. A high-level committee should be formed in this regard its report should be submitted in the next meeting. The Mayor directed the Municipal Commissioner to set up the committee comprising studious Corporators and till then remove all the illegal hoardings.
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Smarak:
BSP member Mohd Jamal took the ruling party as well as the NMC administration to task over inordinate delay in construction of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Smarak and Research Centre proposed to be constructed near Yashwant Stadium. “The State Government and NMC administration should come out with their policy as far as Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Smarak and Research Centre is concerned and enormous delay,” Jamal demanded. The raising of the issue by BSP member Jamal did not go well with a Congress member who charged Jamal of ‘hijacking’ the issue.
This triggered verbal duel and generated heat in the House. Jamal accused BJP and Congress of using the name of Dr Ambedkar for their ‘selfish goals.’ Appealing for calm, the Mayor informed the members that the matter is in final stage. Since the project is big one and a grand Smarak has to be built, the delay is taking place. But the sensitivity of the House would be conveyed to the government, the Mayor said. Ruling Party Leader Sandeep Joshi asserted that bhoomi pujan of the Smarak would be performed during the tenure of current Mayor.
Regularisation of Fire Brigade personnel:
Former Standing Committee Chairman Narendra Borkar raised the issue of regularisation of eight personnel working in Fire Services and Emergency Department. The Mayor, after listening the reply of administration and logics of Corporators, said that confusion prevails over the matter. The administration should study the entire matter and submit report in the next meeting.
At the conclusion of Question Hour, Congress Corporator Kamalesh Choudhari raised question mark over financial powers of Standing Committee Chairman and Municipal Commissioner. After listening to viewpoints of administration and members, the Mayor Jichkar taking the side of Standing Committee Chairman, justified the present working. But the senior member Praful Gudadhe Patil demanded voting on the subject and flawed distribution of funds leaving the House in dilemma.
The Mayor’s justification of the present working triggered noisy scenes as Opposition members including BSP members marched towards well of the House and started shouting slogans. When the Mayor stood her ground, the Opposition members staged walkout.