The Patna High Court on Tuesday asked the Vigilance Investigation Bureau to complete within three months the ongoing probe into the expenditure incurred by Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) on hiring pumping sets, de-silting choked drains, fogging, sprinkling of lime and bleaching powder, etc for ridding the state capital of waterlogging .
While hearing a PIL on waterlogging woes of the city residents, a division bench comprising Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice JN Singh asked the Vigilance department to furnish the probe/ preliminary inquiry report before the court within next 90 days.
The court also directed the Patna Municipal Corporation to furnish within 15 days a report stating the time schedule for de-silting and other preventive measures for tackling waterlogging in the next rainy season.
The court directed the authorities to furnish a status report on the construction of the drainage system, particularly in Kankarbagh by the next date of hearing.
At an earlier hearing on October 15, the court had observed that “maintenance of civic amenities is primarily the function of civic authorities and the State government. We (court) don’t intervene in the matter, but what happened to the entire city recently (during the rainy season) has compelled us to interfere in the matter. The very existence of the residents of city (was) on peril and we can’t shut our eyes.”
The court had earlier directed that a Vigilance probe be conducted into the expenditure incurred by the PMC during the last monsoon after the latter submitted a report mentioning that between April and September, Rs 4,167,814 had been spent on hiring pumping sets and Rs 2,595,297.67 on petrol/ diesel for the pumping sets installed for draining out rain water.
It added that the expenditure incurred in de-silting of six open drains at Kurji, Mandir, Rajapur, Serpentine Road, Saidpur and Bankarganj Nala was about Rs 1 crore.
According to the PMC report, a large sum of money had already been spent to prevent waterlogging during the coming monsoon, but a lawyers’ team, appointed by the High Court on August 28, 2008 and headed by senior advocate NK Sinha, submitted that no effective measures had been taken to prevent waterlogging.
They also suspected that although crores of rupees had been shown to have been spent by the corporation, physical verification revealed that the steps were inadequate and that the money could have been siphoned off.