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₹571cr allotted for 100 schools, but Maharashtra govt has built only 76 in 11 years: PAC

The report tabled in the Assembly by the head of the public accounts committee and Congress legislator Gopaldas Agarwal

mumbai Updated: Dec 23, 2017 13:59 IST
Mumbai,winter session,legislative assembly
NCP MLAs protest against Vidhan Bhawan in Nagpur on the last day of winter session. (Sunny Shende)

The public accounts committee (PAC) on Friday rapped the social justice department for not using a major chunk of the Rs571crore meant for residential schools for students from scheduled castes.

The report tabled by the head of the committee and Congress legislator, Gopaldas Agarwal, in Assembly on Friday said the amount was allocated between 2006 and 2012 to construct 100 schools.

“The fund was transferred to the public works department, but work on only 76 schools has been completed owing to lack of planning. Five schools are yet to be transferred to the social justice department. Construction of seven schools is in progress. Land has been made available for six schools, for which the administrative approval is currently in progress. Land has not been made available for six schools,” said the report that does not specify the amount that is unused.

The accounts committee termed it “an example of the financial indiscipline”, adding the delay has led to a rise in construction price putting uncalled for burden on the state exchequer.

The panel directed the government to complete the work on schools by the end of the year, failing which the remaining funds should be submitted back or utilised for other welfare schemes.

The committee observed that even schools that are functional have negligible number of students.

It suggested the department to adopt measures to ensure rise in the number of students from scheduled caste and consider admitting students from other reserved categories too.

The report also pointed at a loss of Rs33.72 lakh owing to duplication in purchasing of bed sheets, blankets and pillows for residential schools.

It also slammed the department for a loss of Rs1.61 lakh toward unnecessary purchase of chappals of size 2 to 5, instead of the 6 to 9 for students.

It stated the contractor appointed to install biometric machines for attendance installed 3,321 biometric machines instead of 5,050 and was paid Rs11.67 crore instead of Rs8.23 crore.

State approves removal of gaothans from slum map

Taking into the account the long-pending demands of residents, the state government has set the ball rolling to delete gaothans and koliwadas from slum maps in Mumbai.

The state government has asked its revenue department to undertake the exercise.

This comes after Bandra MLA Ashish Shelar raised the issue in the legislative Assembly earlier this week.

“A consultant has been appointed to look into the matter. As a part of the process, there will also be a chapter that will be framed under the development control regulations to look into the issues of gaothans and koliwadas,” Shelar said.

Gaothan residents have welcomed the decision. They have been demanding that their areas be marked as gaothans and not slums.

They said the decision would give gaothans and koliwadas their ‘rightful status’.

Earlier, several of these gaothans have been marked as ‘slums’ in the DP. It did not go down well with residents because they would receive small tenements in exchange for their bigger homes.

“We have always wanted the unique identity of our areas to be protected. We had earlier got 52 gaothans and 20 koliwadas demarcated as such. The stand taken by Ashish Shelar is a welcome move,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee of Watchdog Foundation.

Prahlad Worlikar, secretary of Worli Koliwada Owners Community Welfare Cooperative Society said, “As original residents of these properties, we should have the right to develop our areas,” said Worlikar.

Neil Pereira, a member of Palli Gaothan East Indian Resident Association, said they wanted a time frame for demarcation.

MLA alleges scam in hostel maintenance

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)  MLA alleged irregularities in the repair and maintenance of Manora hostel for MLAs at Nariman Point.

Raising the issue through point of information in the legislative Assembly, MLA Charan Waghamare, representing Tumsar in Bhandara, said Rs 28 lakh to Rs 30 lakh per flat of Manora hostel was usurped without actual repair or maintenance. The state government has ordered a probe into the case.

He said information obtained by him under the Right To Information Act had revealed that officials of the Public Works Department (PWD) prepared fake estimates, submitted bogus bills and made fake entries of workers. He said according to the rules, renovation per flat measuring 330 square feet can’t exceed Rs5 lakh, but for the Manora hostel, the bill was in the range of Rs28 lakh to Rs 30 lakh.

Waghmare said after he complained to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, PWD officials changed the records and tried to prove that the serial numbers of flats were wrongly registered. “To cover up the wrongdoings, officials conspired to weaken the flat structure of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator Satish Patil. After chief minister ordered for the probe, the report was submitted in seven days. Though the government has suspended two officials, a criminal case needs to be registered against the officials,” he said.

Seconding Waghmare, Congress MLA Vijay Wadettiwar said the PWD had spent Rs 28 lakh to repair of his flat.

PWD minister Chandrakant Patil informed the house that an official of the rank of superintendent engineer will conduct the probe. The minister said the MLA complaining about the corruption was free to lodge a first information report (FIR) in the case.

Pension for Emergency detainees?

On the lines of monetary relief to freedom fighters, the Maharashtra government may provide several benefits, including pension, for those who were detained under the erstwhile draconian Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during the Emergency.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis assured the state Assembly that his government would take a positive step during the upcoming cabinet meeting in January. According to one estimate, Maharashtra has around 9,000 MISA detainees. During the Emergency, imposed by late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from June 25, 1975 to March 21, 1977, thousands of people were jailed under MISA. To a question, raised by senior BJP member Eknath Khadse in the Assembly, the CM said his government was gathering information about the number of detainees. “We have already prepared a resolution and would place it in the cabinet meeting for approval,” he added.

Khadse pointed out that several states were giving pension to MISA detainees.

Khadse reminded the CM of his assurance given to the detainees and said he should clarify his stand. Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh provide pension to such people. Most detainees were from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Left parties

First Published: Dec 23, 2017 13:58 IST