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Civic czars on collision course again

The stage is set for a two-day tussle between mayor Afzal Imam and municipal commissioner Kuldip Narayan with the empowered standing committee of Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) meeting on Monday and its board scheduled to meet on Tuesday.

The heat is on ever since the two civic czars clashed over the past few weeks.

The mayor and his supporters are poised to target the commissioner during Monday’s meeting for allegedly not making sufficient progress in big schemes, including municipal petrol pump, traffic signals and pyaaoos (drinking water kiosks) and others, listed in the agenda envisaged in the ongoing budget.

“We are here to carry out development work but unfortunately not much of it can be seen on the ground lately. I don’t have any personal grudge against anyone. All I want is to see development. We are people’s representatives and they are not interested in how many meetings we hold but they are only concerned about how much work is being done,” said Imam.

The last time the standing committee, which is chaired by the mayor, met on December 5, it decided to stop payment of salary to the municipal commissioner for allegedly not making progress in schemes related to public welfare. However, none of the topics on the agenda was discussed at the meeting.

Mayor Imam has, however, claimed that he does not have any objection to video-recording of the proceedings. “I openly support video-recording of the meeting. It would surely be done on Monday and Tuesday,” said Imam.

Other committee members claimed they would try holding the meeting peacefully. “We would try not to pick up any fights this time. There are certain long-pending topics on the agenda, which need attention. Our focus would be to approve as many schemes related to public welfare as possible,” said Abha Lata, the councillor from ward number 4.

Abha Lata has filed a complaint with the state women’s commission accusing Narayan of harassing her mentally. The commission is yet to take any step on the complaint. The last time the standing committee approved any development scheme was on October 8.

However, some senior civic officials have doubted the merit of some points on the agenda of Monday’s meeting.

“The mayor has sought the names of all parks and roads — principal main, main and other roads in the city. Also, what is the point behind putting up pyaaoos in winter? There are more important civic issues than to set up a municipal petrol pump,” said a senior PMC official.

Mayor Imam has his reason behind such queries. “The state government has renamed many roads after great leaders of the state and the country. We want to put up signboards with the new names. The reason behind bringing the proposal for setting up pyaaoos is if we start the process now, we would be able to bring it on ground by next summer,” said Imam.

The agenda for Tuesday’s board meeting includes review of development schemes utilising an estimated outlay of Rs 10 lakh and Rs 15 lakh.