A Rs1.99-crore bill for the renovation of Maharashtra ministers’ cabin has caused a stir in the state government.
The General Administration Department (GAD) of the state government has so far refused to clear the payment. It’s been a year since work was completed. The reason: The department believes some of the cabins were unnecessarily renovated after the new government took over in October 2014. Further, the department believes due procedure was not followed to prove repair work was really needed.
Soon after the 30 ministers were sworn-in last year, some of them were given offices in the Mantralaya’s annexe building. Not happy with their cabins, the ministers asked for renovations to be made. Fifteen cabins were renovated at costs ranging between Rs 2.19 lakh and Rs 33.99 lakh each — Rs1.99 crore in total. Some of the cabins were extended by including adjacent office areas meant for other departments. One of the ministers whose cabins were renovated happens to be PWD minister Chandrakant Patil.
A year after the work was completed, the GAD, the custodian of the cabins, has still not paid the contractors because it believes due process was not followed. “Before the renovation of any office, the PWD has to have the proposal approved by a deputy engineer, who certifies if the work is necessary after due assessment. We found that no such inspection was undertaken. We have now asked the PWD to get the proposals first approved from the authorities,” an official from the GAD said, on condition of anonymity.
The officer said almost all the cabins in the old building were renovated. “In some cases, the ministers did not even want to renovate the cabins, but the contractors and officers from the PWD were in a hurry for obvious reasons,” he said.
Office renovation proposals that cost more than Rs10 lakh go to the chief minister, while the less expensive ones are cleared by the chief secretary. The officer said if this issue is not resolved at the department level, it will be sent to higher authorities.
“I am not aware of the deferred renovation payments. I will be able to comment only after I get more information about the issue,” Patil said.