Staff Reporter :
Though Ruling Party and Opposition benches sparred over process about dissolution of Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT), the city fathers were, however, unanimous that Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) is competent authority for handling Gunthewari Regulation work. Corporators in one voice supported the move to dissolve NIT as one after another they narrated their bad experiences with the regulatory agency when it was parallel development authority. A broadside was launched against NIT as corporators squarely blamed the agency for ruining development process in layouts that came up on border areas of the city. Today, there is a great mismatch between development one sees in central part of city and in areas developed by NIT.
Pravin Datke, senior BJP corporator, participating in the discussion about move to revive NIT blamed latter for coming up of unauthorised layout on outskirts of city. This indicates total lack of scientific approach in implementation of Development Plan (DP). People were fed-up with authoritarian attitude of NIT and hence its dissolution is rightly justified. The move on part of Guardian Minister to directly request State Government for reviving NIT smacks of political motive and one does not why there is need for dual planning authority in city.
The administration to a query from Datke replied that NMC did not receive any letter from Guardian Minister for consultation about revival of NIT. Mayor was also not taken into confidence, elected MLAs were also not consulted before Guardian Minister unilaterally sent letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and demanded revival of NIT. About 33 corporators of all parties participated in the discussion during the special general body meeting of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) held on Thursday at Raje Raghuji Town Hall, Mahal.
The discussion was regarding non transfer of all files of unauthorised layouts by NIT to NMC and the move by Maharashtra Government seeking comments from NIT and NMC about demand for revival of former. Praful Gudadhe-Patil, senior Congress corporator, accused Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of bringing politics in dissolution of NIT. He claimed NIT has not bee fully dissolved as yet and a long complicated process of handing over assets, data pertaining to unauthorised layout remains to be completed. The BJP made announcement about dissolution first during civic elections and later on eve of assembly elections but after coming to power in State they sat up demand for dissolution of NIT.
The process of dissolution was started with half earnest thereby leading to legal complications. Despite all the politics, Gudadhe said he supports the demand for dissolution of NIT. NMC should be sole development authority for Nagpur city. Dayashankar Tiwari, senior BJP corporator, supported the resolution about NIT's dissolution and justified decision saying it was done in public interest. He said then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had worked in NMC and knew the difficulties faced by citizens due to dual planning authority. As to allegations that decision about NIT dissolution was political, Tiwari said political leaders are expected to take political decision and there is nothing wrong in it. Now that House has taken the decision, administration should respect the same. Tanaji Wanwe, Leader of Opposition, though was in support of dissolution of NIT, he defended Guardian Minister on latter's correspondence seeking revival of NIT.
He informed the House that Dr Raut wrote to Chief Minister after some people from unauthorised layouts met former and complained about slow process in development work in their areas. During last six months, NMC has issued only 300 release letter (Rls) and hence the people felt that NIT should be revived. Senior Congress corporator Sandeep Jadhav also criticised NIT claiming that tall promises of development failed to materialise. Earlier though he sparred with Treasury benches claiming that since High Court is seized of matter about dissolution of NIT, no discussion can be held in House. NIT failed to protect open spaces and today people are facing problems in layout that are in outskirts of city.
No need for dual development authority: Mayor After completion of discussion, Mayor Sandip Joshi ruled that there is no need for dual development authority in city. “Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) should hand over all relevant files and documents pertaining to development seven street schemes and Gunthewari Development. The excess manpower of NIT should be immediately relived and directed to report at NMC where they would be absorbed,” he said. Mayor also said, “In case NIT’s employee are reluctant then State Government should permit NMC to carry out recruitment to deal with extra work load of Gunthewari Development.” “The administration was issued directed to convey feelings of corporators to State Government. A separate cell for Gunthewari Development should be constituted by administration to speed-up sanctioning release letter. The cell should be in place by February 29,” he demanded. Mayor sought holding a meeting with Chairperson, NIT, and that of senior corporators, Group Leaders of various parties, ex-Trustees.
Mundhe announces freezing new works Municipal Commissioner Tukaram Mundhe announced freezing new development works in view of precarious financial position of NMC. During the discussion about NIT in special general body meeting, Mundhe informed about the unpopular decision saying civic body is facing liability of nearly Rs 400 crore and against it the current accruing of NMC is quite short. Therefore, it is imperative to enforce financial discipline and in that light administration has decide to take review of ongoing development work and take-up only necessary ones. Mundhe’s announcement came in quite dramatic manner as Ruling Party Leader Pravin Datke seized upon a chance provided by Sandeep Jadhav, from Congress Party, claiming to have seen a letter being sent to State Government seeking grants for clearance of bills regarding development works carried out in South West assembly segment. On directive of Mayor, Commissioner however denied any correspondence with State Government. In case someone from administration has written then same is part of routine process, the Commissioner clarified. Datke asked for clarification about a meeting held with Chief Engineer and oral orders from Commissioner about stoppage of work orders cleared by Standing Committee. Mundhe replied in affirmative that post review of financial position, concretisation works of Phase-II and III that have not begun were asked to be stopped. Already, NMC is committed to providing its share in big ticket works and also to projects taken up through District Planning Committee (DPC) and looking at current stage of finances taking up any new works is not feasible. Works proposed by corporators would now need to be prioritised and only emergency and urgent works would be sanctioned. For land acquisition about 30 per cent payment is made and balance too is needed to paid to ensure ongoing works do not suffer. Commissioner further informed that though deductions of Income Tax and Group Provident Fund (GPF) was made by NMC the same were not transferred to respective accounts. Mundhe made a bold statement that just like corporators, the administration too is committed to development of city. Protesting the move, Pravin Datke, BJP's senior corporator, said Standing Committee and House are constitutional bodies and their directions need to be followed in toto. Apart from rules, NMC is also run by traditional and they be honoured. Dayashankar Tiwari, another senior corporator, blamed the administration for not processing files pertaining to development work well in time. Delay in issuance of work order points to administrative lapse and for that why should citizens suffer. Tiwari also demanded record of last ten years as to financial position of NMC and works taken up in city.