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Vigilance probe finds councillors at fault

The vigilance department has asked Muzaffarpur Municipal Corporation (MMC) to crack the whip on 24 councillors for allegedly indulging in various irregularities.

It has also recommended that the councillors be barred from contesting the upcoming rural elections for not attending board meetings of the civic body on three successive occasions.

Bihar Legislative Council had asked the vigilance department to probe into the alleged irregularities at MMC and functioning of ward councillors.

In its report submitted to the council on Monday, the vigilance department raised question about 24 ward councillors for allegedly indulging in irregularities while selecting development schemes, execution of construction work and anomalies in collection of taxes from vehicles entering the town and that from chungis (vegetable marts). The ward councillors had defied municipal guidelines to suit their vested interests, sources said.

The civic body has altogether 40 councillors.

Narendra Prasad Singh, a member of the Legislative Council (MLC), had raised the issue of the councillors’ arbitrary style of functioning and their alleged involvement in corrupt practices. Alok Kumar Verma, a tax collector, had complained to the higher-ups in the urban development department about the ward councillors.

Following this, Legislative Council chairman Tarakant Jha on March 9 ordered the vigilance probe.

Director-general of police Abhayanand asked the vigilance superintendent of police (SP), Muzaffarpur, Upendra Kumar, to conduct the investigation and submit its report. The team, led by Kumar, collected all documents and records on the selection process of various government schemes, their execution and details of vehicle entry tax and toll realised from vegetable marts in the municipal area from the then (municipal) commissioner, Ram Avatar Ram, and the incumbent, Madhu Gupta.

Subsequently, the vigilance SP served showcause notices on all 49 ward councillors before interrogating them individually and recording their statements between March 17 and March 23.

The vigilance department has taken serious view on the interference of ward councillors and, particularly, the role of husbands of female ward councillors in taking decisions in affairs related to the corporation.

The vigilance department has also examined the actions of the councillors and their staying away from board meetings on three consecutive times. The department has recommended that the councillors be barred from contesting the coming local urban body election scheduled in May-June according to the new directives of the State Election Commission, Bihar.

According to the rules, councillors who have skipped three consecutive MMC board meetings stand barred from contesting polls. The vigilance department has submitted the probe findings to Bihar Legislative Council and sought necessary action for tightening the noose around 24 ward councillors, including deputy mayor Mohammad Nisaruddin.

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