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CM pat lifts mayor’s spirit

Chief minister Nitish Kumar has broken his silence on the ongoing tussle between mayor Afzal Imam and Patna municipal commissioner Kuldip Narayan.

Nitish, though indirectly, on Wednesday spoke out loud in support of the mayor.

Speaking on the sidelines of the inauguration of schemes of urban development and housing department worth Rs 1,400 crore at Samvad Bhavan, he said: “Urban local bodies are not statutory but they are constitutional bodies. Mahapaur ko Nagarpita ka darza prapt hai (a mayor has got the status of the guardian of the city).”

He added: “Officers (read PMC commissioner) should respect the elected representatives (read mayor). Lekin apne adhikar kaun chorna chahta hai (But who wants to relinquish his authority/power),” said Nitish.

He made such a statement, while sharing the dais with mayor Imam, while commissioner Narayan was spotted sitting in the audience.

Having spoken in support of the mayor, Nitish seems to have attracted the wrath of the opposition.

“He (Nitish) is protecting criminals (read Imam) in the name of democracy. With the help of urban development and housing department secretary (S. Siddharth), he (Nitish) is mentally harassing the municipal commissioner. All this is being done because many JD(U) leaders have illegally constructed multi-storeyed apartments in the city and now they are under PMC scanner,” said former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi.

Apparently, among the 25 new vigilance cases initiated by the PMC in the last week, one of the buildings on Fraser Road is owned by strongman-turned- JD(U) MLA Anant Singh. Buddha Inn, another hotel owned by Singh, is already facing a vigilance case.

The mayor, too, was all praise for Nitish.

“The chief minister of Bihar is a man for justice and development. While he is doing development at every front in the state, today he talked about justice for the elected head of the urban local bodies. He has asked for justice to the mayor by way of executive officers, including their chief (read commissioner), paying respect to him. The CM having expressed his views in very clear words, the officers (read PMC commissioner) concerned should now at least act responsibly,” said Imam.

The PMC, on the other hand, is all set to get a fillip in the crackdown on unauthorised building construction activities as the state water resources department has deputed its 16 engineers to the civic body for three months. Apart from the existing six teams, with the addition, the PMC would form three new teams for the work. Five engineers gave their “intimation for joining” to the PMC on Wednesday.

In a letter dated December 8, Sushil Kumar Singh, the joint secretary (administration), has ordered deputation of four executive engineers, six assistant engineers and six junior engineers from the department to the PMC. The water resources department would give the remuneration, including salary to the engineers during the deputation period.

According to the directives of Patna High Court, four executive engineers, three assistant engineers and six junior engineers from different departments were provided to the civic body for surveying the buildings suspected to be constructed in violation of building byelaws. However, the rural works department in the last week of November called back its engineers because their deputation period was over.

Accordingly, commissioner Narayan through a letter dated November 30 to the secretary, urban development and housing department, with a copy to the chief secretary, requested deputation of 57 engineers and eight officers from Bihar Administrative Services. “Each team comprises one executive engineer, one assistant engineer and two junior engineers. Thus, apart from filling up the vacant positions in the existing six groups after the end of the deputation period of engineers from rural works department, we would be making three new teams. This would definitely expedite the building survey works,” said Narayan.

According to sources in the civic body, each team surveys one building in a day on an average. Accordingly five buildings are surveyed in a week.