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PMC internal battle clouds use of funds

The civic body battle seems to have no end, and the taxpayers might not witness a clean city anytime soon.

The “infamous” dispute between Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) commissioner Kuldip Narayan and mayor Afzal Imam has gained momentum with both sides making serious allegations on each other. Responding to the lambasting from Narayan during an hour-long news meet on Wednesday, Imam on Thursday made serious allegations of similar kind on the commissioner.

The revival of the blame game between the administrative head and the legislative chief of the corporation is taking its toll on smooth functioning of the civic body. On the stake this time is the much- delayed solid waste management project under centrally sponsored Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

The funds for the project, which has been delayed by more than seven years but witnessed slight progress during the past year, is now on the verge of getting returned to the state government because of the internal conflict in the civic body.

Narayan had on Wednesday claimed that it was due to the delay caused by the empowered standing committee (headed by mayor) since past one year that the solid waste management project is not getting executed. The commissioner had claimed that he would return the funds if the standing committee does not give its nod in its next meeting scheduled on September 3.

Mayor Imam on Thursday claimed that the project was not approved by the committee because of a faulty report for procurement of equipment under this project submitted by the commissioner.

“The PMC board had approved the solid waste management project in its meeting held on September 13 last year. It was only after nearly a year that the commissioner proposed a report on the recommendation of the procurement committee on the project in the meeting of the standing committee held on August 4 this year. However, neither the commissioner nor the technical expert appointed by urban development and housing department under this project was present in the meeting. Moreover, the questions raised by committee members were not answered properly by additional municipal commissioner and chief engineer present in the meeting. Thus, we deferred our decision on this project,” said Imam.

About the deadline of September 3 set by the commissioner for return of the funds under the project, Imam said: “The standing committee would give its approval on procurement of equipment if the commissioner and the technical expert would be present in the meeting and answer all queries raised by the members of the committee.”

Mayor Imam also alleged that chief sanitary inspector Kishori Mahto is continuing with his service, though he retired four months ago.

In another allegation, Imam also said that funds to the tune of Rs 1,08,36,000 were sanctioned for repair and maintenance of manholes and catchpits by the PMC board on August 31, 2013, but these are still open at many places in the city.

Sources in the PMC, however, claimed that the work on manholes and catchpits is mostly to be looked after at the circle level, which is headed by the respective executive officer.

“The sanitary inspectors in different wards are supposed to survey their area after every 15 days and recommend the required maintenance works on manholes and catchpits to the executive engineer, who in turn seeks funds for the same from the executive officer of the circle. If the executive officer finds dearth of funds, then he seeks the same from the municipal commissioner,” said a senior official of the PMC.

Whatever be the internal clashes within the confines of the corporation, the outcome might not go well with the citizens who eagerly wait for clean city with swanky streets.