Ajoy Mehta, who took over as the civic chief around six months ago, said he functions keeping in mind a three-word mantra.
Speaking to HT from his cabin on the second floor of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) headquarters, Mehta said, “We want to be fair, transparent and simple. We are trying to simplify every procedure for the benefit of the citizen. We have already initiated many procedures and are in the process of continuing this practice.”
The BMC commissioner has been lauded for his efforts in clearing the city of encroachments, quick action in the desilting scam where he suspended 14 civic officials, simplification of complex bureaucratic procedures and bringing in transparency in the civic body, often condemned for its corrupt practices. He was also credited for an overhaul of the road tender conditions. He was also lauded for the inquiry he initiated after the Kalbadevi fire, expecting a complete overhaul of the fire brigade department.
A 1984-IAS batch official, Mehta took over from Sitaram Kunte in April. He came with experience of handling several key assignments in state and Central government, including ending the power supply crisis in the state during his tenure in energy department.
Critics, however, said Mehta is all words and no action. Sandeep Deshpande, group leader of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in the BMC, said, “He promised action on illegal slums and that he would hold ward officials responsible. What action has he taken till date? He is here to only facilitate the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) agenda.”
Mehta has also been criticised for making decisions without taking ruling Shiv Sena into confidence.
“Every procedure has to follow a process which cannot be achieved overnight. Even with the encroachment issues, though we have started the work at a good pace, we have legal procedures to follow,” the civic chief said about objections being raided over his decisions.
A senior civic official said, “He is a dynamic leader and a task-master. Though he is a disciplinarian when it comes to work, he also allows his work-force to perform under a free environment. The work in BMC has definitely paced-up in the last few months.”