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Tit-for-tat tussle in civic body
- PMC lawyer faces heat after mayor aide removal

The state urban development and housing department seems to have suddenly started taking deeper interest in the working of Patna Municipal Corporation.

Though PMC commissioner Kuldip Narayan had suspended Shailendra Kumar, personal assistant at the residential office of mayor Afzal Imam, on charges of indiscipline in the second week of October, the deputy secretary of urban development and housing department through a letter (dated November 14) ordered withdrawal of the suspension order with immediate effect.

Through another letter dated October 23, the deputy secretary asked the commissioner to immediately remove H.S. Himkar, the panel advocate of the civic body. Himkar is representing the PMC in cases against unauthorised buildings in ongoing cases in Patna High Court as well as the vigilance cases at the court of PMC commissioner himself.

Sources claim that old wounds are being raked up for removal of Himkar from the PMC. “In fact, former PMC commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pal had removed Himkar as well. Moreover, the PMC board had also taken a resolution for removal of Himkar at its meeting on October 31,” said a senior official of the department.

While two missives seeking removal of Himkar were sent to the municipal commissioner on October 30 and November 15 but Himkar is still discharging his duties as the PMC panel advocate.

“Himkar is associated with the PMC as its panel advocate since February 2010 and knows the in and out of most ongoing cases related to violation of the building by-laws. The complaints regarding him in 2011 were filed by the opponent advocates only. The commissioner, through a letter (dated November 2) to the department has said that the stand of the PMC in cases against unauthorised buildings would weaken if Himkar is removed, thus he should be allowed to continue,” said a source in the PMC.

Commissioner Narayan was not available for comment on the issue.

Many people who have seen the PMC functioning from very close are of the view that intervention of the department in the routine works of PMC is not healthy.

“Though the department has power to interfere in the working of urban local bodies but that is mostly done on policy-related issues. However, if the department starts interfering in the municipal bodies on day-to-day issues then it does not show a healthy environment for local self- governance,” said R.S. Chaudhary, retired chief town planner, urban development and housing department.