| Kuldip Narayan |
Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) has turned into a battleground with the mayor — the elected head of the civic body and the first citizen of the city of Patna — and the commissioner — the chief administrator and executive head — locking horns over the past few months.
The simmering tension burst out into the open on Thursday when the empowered standing committee of the PMC, chaired by mayor Afzal Imam, decided to stop payment of salary to commissioner Kuldip Narayan. It also decided the files of proceedings of the committee would not henceforth be sent to the commissioner.
Those observing the developments at the civic body from close claim that “Sam-Dam-Dand-Bhed (talks, money, punishment and division)” — everything is being applied to impact the day-to-day affairs at the corporation. The Telegraph revisits the series of events or, better to say, the controversies that surrounded the civic body in the recent past
Stop salary payment to commissioner
Commissioner Narayan, an IIT-Kanpur graduate who belongs to the 2005 batch of the IAS, in a press briefing on Friday said that the decision taken by the standing committee, headed by mayor Afzal Imam, was illegal and the matter would be reported to the state government once the written proceedings of the meeting is made available to him.
Mayor Imam countered: “Section 22 of the Bihar Municipal Act states that the total executive power of the municipal authority is vested in the standing committee. As the executive powers of the state government is vested in the governor, similar is the case of the empowered standing committee.”
PMC staff taking long leaves
Sudhir Kumar Singh, assistant health officer-cum-registrar, births and deaths, in a letter (dated December 5, 2013) to the commissioner, has requested leave from December 21 to 30. Vilas Manjhi, the personal assistant of the commissioner, in a letter (dated December 4, 2013) applied for leave from December 5 to 7. Former deputy mayor Vinay Kumar 'Pappu' claimed: “Mayor Imam is pressuring PMC staff to go on leave one after the other, so as to obstruct the routine work of the civic body and give a bad name to the commissioner for not doing any work.”
Mayor Imam in a missive to the commissioner last week claimed that his letters are not being uploaded on the PMC website. Commissioner Narayan has replied that the mayor can specifically mention the letters which have not been uploaded and the work would be done in no time. Imam apparently demanded that photocopies of around 2,500 letters that have been uploaded on the website should be made available to all members of the standing committee that is chaired by the mayor. “Transparency is a major reason behind the frequent grievances being raised by the mayor. Anything and everything is available on our website for everyone to see, including the mayor,” said Narayan
| Afzal Imam
Anomaly in finalisation of proceedings of meetings of the standing commitee
Awadhesh Kumar, the personal assistant of the mayor, who was also the stenographer of the municipal secretariat, has been removed from the latter post. “Awadhesh has written that he is unable to prepare the proceedings of the meetings of the standing committee based on its video footage. Besides, mayor Imam has issued the proceedings of the past two meetings without sending the file to me or the municipal secretariat for final verification as mandated by the Empowered Standing Committee Conduct of Business Rules, 2010,” said Narayan.
Row over video-recording of the meetings
Mayor Imam had taken the memory card of the video camera to record proceedings of the meeting held on Thursday. The mayor has since returned the card. Earlier, the meeting of the empowered standing committee got cancelled on two occasions — on September 30 and October 4 — over the issue of video-recording. “The mayor has a tendency to make unlawful changes in the draft proceedings of the meetings of the standing committee. Thus, he does not want the video recording as it would be an authentic proof of the developments of the meetings,” said Sunil Yadav, the councillor for ward number 10
Narayan has set up a three-member committee to probe a missing page from the file made for construction of boundary wall around a landfill site at Ramchak Bairiya. “It was on the instruction of the mayor that the original note-sheet containing payment for construction of the boundary wall has been removed from the corresponding file. The payment was not supposed to be made,” said former deputy mayor Pappu
Transfer of commissioner
Though Patna High Court had ordered that commissioner Narayan should not be transferred without its permission, the state government moved the Supreme Court seeking its intervention in the matter. The apex court, however, dismissed the special leave petition on November 25 and asked the state government to pursue the matter with Patna High Court only
Crackdown on unauthorised building construction activities- the mother of all conflicts
Commissioner Narayan said on Friday that 25 new vigilance cases have been initiated against buildings which are allegedly being constructed in violation of building bylaws. One of the buildings on Fraser Road is owned by JD(U) MLA Anant Singh, a powerful leader from Mokama. “The commissioner is being cornered from all angles because he has been taking stringent action against unauthorised building construction activities. Political interests are also being pursued to harass the commissioner and to keep him engaged in other unimportant work, so as to divert his interest from the action being taken against the builders,” said former deputy mayor Pappu