It was a brazen act of defiance against the civic body's attempt to fix accountability for delay in filling potholes. When asked by the administration to explain the delay and pay the fine, engineers simply walked out of the meeting.
On Friday, sub-engineers of the roads department had been asked to attend a meeting to discuss the reasons behind the delay in filling potholes. The meeting was called at the office of chief engineer (roads) following orders from the civic administration to evaluate each engineer's performance.
But, the engineers, led by an executive engineer from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Engineers' Union, walked out of the meeting refusing to give an explanation or pay the fine. The civic body has now decided to take disciplinary action against the engineers who initiated the walk-out.
"Why should we pay the fine? We do not even know why we are being penalised," said Sainath Rajadhyaksha, general secretary, Brihanmumbai Municipal Engineers' Union. "The administration should sort out glitches in the system that have delayed pothole-filling work. We are not to be blamed for the delay."
Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta termed the incident as "unfortunate". "The meeting was held to lend a sympathetic ear to the problems of these engineers and hear their reasons for the delay in filling potholes. Such incidents lower the dignity of the chief engineer and hence, the engineers responsible for this will be dealt with strictly."
The BMC has been receiving several complaints of potholes not being filled within the stipulated 24- to 48-hour timeframe. To fix this, last month, the civic administration declared that erring engineers will also be penalised for delays. Each engineer was charged with Rs1,000 per day for delaying pothole filling work. The civic body has contractors and engineers a total fine of Rs 1.86 crores as total fine delay in pothole filing work. Of this, Rs20 lakh is to be collected from engineers as fine.