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#RecallPingale: Why a Chennai IAS officer’s story is going viral

Had authorities in Chennai paid heed to the warnings of an IAS officer who had cried hoarse over the shoddy work of corporators and road contractors, the Tamil Nadu capital could have avoided today’s fury of floods.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2015 17:40 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Chennai rains,Vijay Pingale,IAS officer
Houses submerged in flood waters, in Chennai. The heaviest rainfall in more than 100 years devastated swathes of the state of Tamil Nadu.(AP Photo)

The story of an honest IAS officer, who was transferred just three days after he named contractors who botched up road work in Chennai, has gone viral at a time devastating floods have exposed flaws in urban management.

Now netizens are rallying behind him and have started an online petition to reinstate him as the Joint Commissioner (Works) of Chennai Corporation.

“A few days ago, Mr.Vijay Pingale, Joint Commisioner (Works) of Chennai Corporation got transferred on the grounds that are completely unacceptable. He is an honest, diligent and competent officer. Chennai City needs efficient officer like Mr Pingale to get all the incomplete works like relaying roads and other civil work carried out by Chennai Corporation. He should be recalled and reinstated immediately. At least he should be given time to finish off all the work that he had started. Please support this petition in favour of Mr.Pingale,” a petition supporting him on reads.

An MBBS graduate and IAS officer of the 2004 batch , Vijay Pingale, who was the joint commissioner (works) of Chennai Corporation, dared to take on the road contractor’s cartel, following which he was transferred to the industrial department.

Pingale not only made the mistake of naming and shaming contractors for their shoddy work, but he also imposed fines on corrupt contractors. According to a report in Times of India, Pingale made public on November 11 the names of nine contractors who were asked to return Rs 2 crore to the civic body after the corporation had to carry out repair work on stretches laid by them.

Pingale further promised to name other contractors for poor work and said the total penalties were likely to rise. The move reportedly infuriated the contractors and he was transferred just 3 days after the incident.

Officials on conditions of anonymity told the Times of India that the contractor lobby was responsible for the decision to move Pingale out of the corporation as his insistence on accountability and refusal to buckle to political pressure irked several contractors.

As head of the works department, Pingale was second only to corporation commissioner Vikram Kapur and handled major duties in the civic body including roads, buildings, bridges, solid waste management, storm water drains, electrical, mechanical engineering, planning and investigation.

The online petition supporting Pingale also called for a social change by citizens by raising their voice against transfer of honest officers.

“Vijay was arbitrarily transferred .. Why ? Because he levied fines against Contractor Mafia who are responsible for the poor quality of roads..Is this the price for fighting to make the city better... Don’t let your voice go unnoticed.. Fight the injustice..,” the petition said.

Support for him also poured out on Twitter amd Facebook with netizens using the hashtag #RecallPingale to express their anger and resentment against the sudden transfer.

First Published: Dec 05, 2015 17:40 IST