The real motive behind a government resolution (GR), issued 18 months ago, exempting the chief secretary (CS) of the state from paying electricity and water bills at his official residence has been revealed.
It has emerged that the provision was made to waive the dues of about Rs 6.75 lakh owed by former CS Ratnakar Gaikwad.
Gaikwad, who was CS between January 1, 2011 and May 31, 2012 was residing in the MMRDA accommodation at Bandra during his tenure. Before he was appointed CS, he was heading MMRDA and residing at the accommodation. He continued to live in the flat even after taking over as the CS. The MMRDA demanded the payment of Rs 6.75 lakh, incurred towards electricity bills during the period. Gaikwad refused to pay the bill, saying he was entitled to free electricity as he was CS during the period. MMRDA, however, refused to buy the claim and repeatedly demanded the money.
To get rid of the financial liabilities, the government issued a GR in May 2013, announcing that the CS would be entitled to free electricity, water and furniture at the official accommodation. The order also allowed other IAS officers to avail similar facilities at the official residences. Citing the GR, the government also directed the MMRDA to waive the dues. The information was obtained under the Right to Information Act by activist Anil Gagali, which has revealed the loss of the amount to the MMRDA.
“Gaikwad, as MMRDA chief, before he was appointed CS on January 1, 2011, was living at the residence. Instead of moving into the government accommodation, Gaikwad continued staying at the MMRDA-owned 8,000 sq ft penthouse for his entire tenure as the CS. Since he was not employed with MMRDA, he should have paid the dues. After he refused, the government issued the GR in order to help Gaikwad avoid paying his dues. There was no reason to implement the GR with retrospective effect,” said Galgali.
He said that the GR has added an extra annual financial burden of about Rs 2 crore, as other IAS officers, too, have been given sops of free electricity, water and furniture in the order.
MMRDA, in November 2012, had asked the government for a recovery of the amount. Gaikwad did not respond to the calls and text message sent to seek his comment on the issue.