A day after HT reported about violations in the appointment of the commissioner of Mira-Bhayander civic body, it has been revealed that the general administration department (GAD), which deals with such appointments, had recommended posting of an IAS officer to head the civic body. Achyut Hange, the man at the centre of the controversy, is a Class-I officer from the state service.
HT reported on Thursday that Hange’s appointment happened on the recommendation of state rural development minister Pankaja Munde.
It was done despite a corruption enquiry pending against him and violated the Fadnavis government’s norms for appointments.
Munde, however, sought to wash her hands off the controversy, saying she had no role to play in appointing Hange.
“The recommendation for Hange was one of the many recommendations that we, as ministers, make to the chief minister. I do not personally know him. Moreover, my department was not the appointing authority in this case. The department that appointed him should have checked his credentials,” said Munde, adding that appointment of any officer facing departmental enquiry does not bar him from taking over as commissioner.
The urban development department (UDD), which governs municipal corporations across the state, had asked the GAD to appoint IAS officers as heads of eight civic bodies in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). Although Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Kalyan-
Dombivli municipal corporations are headed by IAS officers, Mira-Bhayander, Ulhasnagar, Vasai-Virar and Bhivandi-Nijampur corporations have Class-I officers from state services as commissioners.
Responding to UDD’s diktat, the GAD had proposed to appoint IAS officers to head Mira-Bhayandar and Vasai-Virar corporations. “The civic bodies in the MMR have been witnessing rapid urbanisation and have huge annual budget. To ensure corruption-free and effective administration, they need to be governed by officers with specialised training in handling administration,” said an UDD official, explaining the reason behind insistence of IAS officers heading the civic bodies.
Hange, however, was appointed commissioner by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who heads GAD and UDD, using his discretionary powers on a recommendation from Munde. UDD, in its report, had opposed the appointment of Hange, citing various reasons, including the pending enquiry, seniority of other officers and norms related to the term of the tenure.
“The government resolution (GR) issued by our department in February this year clearly states that disciplinary action should be taken against officials soliciting political pressure for posting. The appointment of Hange was blatant violation of the GR, but the CM has ultimate discretionary powers to appoint any officer to head a municipal corporation,” said a GAD official, on the condition of anonymity.