The commissioner allegedly behaved rudely when the members of the Rayat Vidyarthi Parishad approached him to complain about the inordinate delay in conducting the tree census by the contractor appointed by the civic administration.
Days after coming under fire for lodging a complaint and getting nine protesting citizens and a corporator arrested, Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) commissioner Rajesh Patil has again got into trouble. This time, a group of students who had approached him to talk about the delay in conducting a tree census have complained to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the urban development ministry about his alleged rude behaviour and sought action against him.
The commissioner allegedly behaved rudely when the members of the Rayat Vidyarthi Parishad approached him to complain about the inordinate delay in conducting the tree census by the contractor appointed by the civic administration. The incident took place on Saturday after which the students released a video to show the “rude” behaviour of the commissioner.
Raviraj Kale, secretary of the Rayat Vidyarthi Parishad, told The Indian Express, “we had gone to meet the municipal commissioner to complain to him about the delay in conducting the tree census. We decided to seek his appointment and meet him personally as he had repeatedly avoided replying to our complaint. We wrote at least 6 or 7 letters to him but he had shown no courtesy in replying.”
In the video uploaded on Facebook by the students, Patil is heard saying that he was not accountable to them. His reply came after the students, addressing him as “sir”, flooded him with questions. All the questions they asked were related to the delay in tree census and the inaction of the PCMC in the matter.
Kale alleged that Patil was replying in a “very rude and arrogant tone” while they were asking questions politely.
“When we sought to know from him the reason for the delay in conducting the tree census and why no action was taken against the guilty contractor, the commissioner, instead of giving straight replies, was evasive and was not trying to understand our concern for the environment. He straightaway told us that he was not accountable to us and that he was accountable to the PCMC. We were shocked to hear this from a municipal commissioner. It is clear that he has no idea that an IAS officer is supposed to serve the citizens and not politicians or officers.”
When the students alleged that PCMC was favouring a guilty contractor, the commissioner is heard saying, “You can think whatever you want to..”. When the students told him that he was the commissioner and should reply to their questions, the commissioner repeated, “I am accountable to the PCMC.”
Kale said the PCMC had failed to conduct the tree census from 2015 to 2017. “In view of this, the then municipal commissioner Shravan Hardikar had on January 11, 2018, ordered a tree census. The tender process was carried out for this purpose. A private contractor was given the tender of Rs 6.80 crore for carrying out the tree census in two years. The contractor was also supposed to look after the maintenance of the trees. However, after two years, the tree census remained incomplete and even now there is no sign of it getting completed.”
Kale said a team of students including Rishikesh Kanvate, Onkar Bhoir and Suryakant Sarvade went to meet the commissioner. “We demanded that the contractor should be put on blacklist and strong action taken against him. We told the commissioner that the PCMC was supporting a contractor who was guilty of not completing the allotted work,” he said.
Rajesh Patil, meanwhile, told The Indian Express, “it’s not true..I have not behaved the way they are alleging.”
Last month, Patil had courted controversy after he filed a police complaint against nine citizens and a corporator, Asha Shendge, who were protesting against the digging up of roads. One of the citizens even threw ink on his nameplate. After Patil filed a police complaint, 10 were arrested. They served one day in police custody and nearly 14 days in judicial custody or Yerawada jail.
The citizens and the corporator complained to the Prime Minister’s office about the behaviour of the IAS officer while the ruling BJP has also condemned the PCMC administration for going ” too far” against the protesting citizens.
Condemning the incident, Shendge said, “This incident is highly condemnable. Neither citizens nor students can ask questions to the commissioner. I don’t understand whether we are living in a democracy or a Taliban regime. Even in our case, we were protesting against the inconvenience and the administration sent us to jail. In every other protest in the country, protesting citizens are detained and released in the evening. But in Pimpri-Chinchwad, democracy is blatantly trampled upon.”
Another BJP corporator Seema Savale said, “in my three terms as the corporator, I have never seen such an arrogant commissioner. He (Patil) is clearly working for his masters and not for the citizens. I have several sought a hearing from him on some civic issues including the rampant corruption in the smart city works, but he has refused to hold any hearings. We are left with no choice but to approach the Prime Minister’s Office.”
“When he sometimes replies, it is in a half-sentence and he quickly puts the phone down. He does not seem to be interested in resolving citizens’ issues,” she added.
Sagar Charan, member of the district vigilance committee, said, “when I had recently met him regarding the issues of the safai karamcharis or conservancy staff, he behaved in a humiliating manner with me… I have filed a complaint with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.”
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