The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) numerous scams such as the storm water drain scam, desilting scam and road scam have necessitated a regular audit of the civic body’s expenditure. For the first time, a state government appointee will be responsible for unearthing irregularities through its audit reports in the functioning of Shiv Sena-led BMC. The Shiv Sena had strongly opposed the appointment when it was announced in June terming it as interference by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in the BMC’s functioning.
The Bombay high court on Friday vacated a stay on the appointment of a municipal chief auditor to be done by the state government. Suresh Bansode, the chief auditor assumed the charge after the court lifted the stay, which was in place for four years.
Bansode was earlier joint director (administration) at Local Fund Audit Directorate at Navi Mumbai. He will now monitor the BMC’s finances and submit the audit reports to the civic standing committee. While Bansode will be reporting to the standing committee and municipal commissioner, he aims to form a task force of 50 employees to prepare audit notes for better transparency.
The major ruling party in the BMC, the Shiv Sena, is likely to oppose this proposal of appointing new municipal chief auditor in the general body meeting.
“We will oppose this proposal whenever it is tabled in the general body meeting as we want civic employees to be promoted to this position. We will oppose an outsider taking charge,” said Trushna Vishwasrao, Leader of the House and Sena corporator.
In an order issued on June 15, the state government had appointed chief auditors for the BMC as well as its undertakings such as Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) and Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC) and Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation (MIDC).
While citing the high court’s stay on implementation of municipal corporation act section 78 (A) – an amendment to this act in 2011, which allowed the state to appoint a municipal chief auditor – owing to various municipal employees approaching court about four years ago, Bansode’s appointment was delayed. A detailed hearing on this issue will be held on October 17 and the future of the appointment will be decided then, said civic officials.
“An audit has not been done for more than two years by the municipal employees working in this department and there was a dire need for a state government appointee to take charge. I had written to chief minister to do this at the earliest. We hope audits are carried out regularly,” said Sandeep Deshpande, group leader of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).