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Will the Commissioner’s CCTV plans control corruption in NMMC? NMTV Weekend Exclusive

Officials in NMMC are sweating and the reason for this is that the NMMC Commissioner Bhaskar Wankhede has called for a plan to install CCTV cameras in the cabin of all officials. The decision comes in wake of the various scams that are being reported in all major projects in NMMC executed with public taxes and JNNURM funds. Dy. Editor Sana Warsia tries to find out whether the CCTV plan of the Commissioner will control corruption in NMMC?

Discussions in hushed voices and frantic officials have become a common sight in NMMC. Not just among any officials, but the top officers who have been ruling the roost in NMMC administrative functioning for years now. This is because Commissioner Bhaskar Wankhede has spoken what so far could have only been the worst nightmare of officials – he has ordered for installation of CCTV cameras within the cabin of all officials. At the NMMC HQ, the Commissioner says that the idea is to “know” what his officers are doing and whether “administrative system” is being followed by officials.

Though the Commissioner shrugs off the decision as being a normal administrative decision, there is more to the plan that what meets the eye. Ever since Bhaskar Wankhede has taken charge as NMMC Commissioner, one after another scams are being exposed through RTIs. The list began with the towers on Palm Beach Road and town planning scam and the list now taints some of the most ambitious and major projects of NMMC with corruption. These include :
• THANE BELAPUR ROAD
• NMMC HQ
• CONSTRUCTION OF NEW HI-TECH STP PLANTS
• HOSPITALS IN NERUL AND AIROLI
• INSTALLATION OF WATER METERS
• LAYING WATER PIPELINES
• LAYING SEWERAGE PIPELINES
According to sources, officials in NMMC have started fearing lok shahi days, as this is the day that registers the maximum complaints based on RTIs exposing some of the major scams witnessed for the first time in NMMC’s history. The RTI exposes show how there have scams in all projects where Crores of public taxes have been spent – either directly from NMMC treasury or from JNNURM funds. Jayesh Samant says that it’s because many officials have lost their HOD posts that they are giving inputs to activists about these scams.

Most of these scams are of the period when Vijay Nahata was NMMC Commissioner, points out Jayesh Samant. He says that for some reason the same activists who are making a beeline to NMMC with RTI exposes had disappeared during the tenure of Vijay Nahata – a bureaucrat known for sharp and shrewd management skills. And this is what is troubling Commissioner Bhaskar Wankhede the most – the ghosts of the scams of Vijay Nahata’s tenure. Journalist Jayesh Samant says that most of the present Commissioner’s time in office is spent on making committees for enquiring these scams.

Whatever the reason for the increasing scam expose be; it definitely had the Commissioner worried who took the embarassing decision of installing CCTV cameras in the cabins of the top officials of NMMC. So will this help control corruption in NMMC? It will definitely bring in transparency says journalist Jayesh Samant. The list of scams has blemished the NMMC administration functioning and has compelled the Commissioner to take the help of CCTV camera to usher in transparency and restore public faith. Not surprisingly, the Commissioner defends his officers and says that it’s only an attempt to be more transparent and has nothing to do with about keeping a watch on corrupt officials.

Corporators are all welcoming the CCTV initiative of the Commissioner. Opposition Leader Manoj Haldankar says that the CCTV cameras will expose how contractors are always hovering over officials in their cabin. Shiv Sena’s Vijayanand Mane says that the Commissioner’s plan will ensure that officials are doing a “clean” job. He too believes that the decision will help control corruption. Leader of the House Vithal More too agreed the Commissioner’s decision would make administrative functioning more transparent. However, the most noteworthy endorsement of the Commissioner’s move comes from Thane Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik.

Once the cabin of senior officials in NMMC comes under the surveillance of CCTV cameras; there is no doubt that the dirty deals that happens within the civic headquarters will have to be done outside. However, with corruption being too deep rooted in NMMC, it would be difficult to say whether it will be controlled though the decision of Commissioner Bhaskar Wankhede does look like a good beginning for transparent functioning to restore public faith. With bureau inputs, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.

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