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Prod for more techies in PMC probe

Patna, Dec. 7: Chief secretary Ashok Kumar Sinha yesterday directed urban development and housing department secretary S. Siddharth to depute engineers from other departments at Patna Municipal Corporation to expedite survey of under-construction illegal buildings.

In a letter (dated November 20) to Siddharth with a copy to Sinha, Patna municipal commissioner Kuldip Narayan requested deputation of 57 engineers and eight officers from Bihar Administrative Service to speed up investigation into construction of buildings that violate building bylaws, as directed by Patna High Court.

In reply (dated November 26), urban development and housing department additional secretary asked the municipal commissioner to appoint engineers from his own end in pursuance of Section 36(2) of the Bihar Municipal Act, 2007, which states that appointment of officers in certain categories may be done by the civic body upon consent of the empowered standing committee.

However, sources in the civic body claimed that several other provisions require the approval of the state government in appointment of engineers of the required rank (additional engineer and executive engineer among others) in the civic body.

“Section 41 states that the power of the state government to appoint its officers in the municipalities has an over-riding effect on Section 36. Moreover, the Section 36 (8) states that prior approval of the state government is necessary in the case appointment of a person (in the municipality) is not recommended by the state public service commission.

“Moreover, the engineers required for the building survey works fall under staff category ‘A’ and ‘B’, for which the appointing authority is the state government as per the Section 38 of the Bihar Municipal Act (Amendment), 2011,” said a senior official of Patna Municipal Corporation.

Accordingly, Sinha, in the meeting yesterday, asked Siddharth to request other state departments for deputation of engineers of the required rank to the Patna Municipal Corporation at the earliest.

Also, a division bench of Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Shailesh Kumar Sinha on Thursday, during the hearing of a PIL against unauthorised building construction activities, had observed: “We are left with no option now except to issue a mandamus to the urban development department secretary to ensure that adequate number of engineers are made available to the PMC till such time that survey and inspections continue and final orders are not passed either closing the investigation or vigilance case is initiated. It shall be the responsibility of the urban development department secretary to ensure that he informs the departments concerned from where engineers are called on deputation.”

While expressing its displeasure over nominating the same persons as member of the PMC building tribunals, which had been associated with inspection of the buildings facing vigilance cases, the division bench had observed: “On the previous date, an affidavit was filed on behalf of the urban development department principal secretary disclosing the names of four persons as members selected for the two municipal building tribunals… It would be an incongruous situation, when they (two executive engineers from District Urban Development Authority) will be sitting in judgment over their own report as members of the tribunal…We require the urban development department secretary to file his response to the same.”

In an earlier hearing in the same case (CWJC- 8152/2013) on October 9, the court had given 15 days’ time to the state urban development and housing department to form the two building tribunals, which would look after the cases filed against illegal building construction activities in the city.

Vigilance hearing

The third mass hearing in vigilance cases against buildings allegedly being built in violation of by-laws was held at the court of PMC Kuldip Narayan on Saturday. Forty defendants had turned up for 77 cases up for hearing.