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Thane Municipal Corporation to set up inquiry into irregularities of park work

Civic chief says ruling party also to be held accountable as project got approval twice

mumbai Updated: Sep 29, 2018 00:26 IST
Megha Pol
Megha Pol
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Thane,TMC
A miniature model of the Thane Central Jail at the Old Thane New Thane theme park in Patlipada. (PRAFUL GANGURDE/HT)

The blame game on the irregularities of Old Thane New Thane park at Patlipada continued in the general body meeting on Friday.

After the scam was highlighted in Thursday’s general body meeting, the issue refused to die down. It unanimously decided to set up an independent inquiry under additional commissioner, experts and general body members.

Saying that the ruling party is also to be blamed, the civic commissioner on Friday claimed that the project was the dream project of the local MLA.

Thane municipal commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal claimed that the park was the election manifesto of the local MLA and the Shiv Sena who had threatened to protest if the corporation did not construct it.

The project got approval from the general body and standing committee twice and they are equally responsible for it, said Jaiswal.

Jaiswal told the general body that while inquiry should be conducted on the irregularities, action should be taken against everyone whom the report implicates — the civic engineer alone should not be made a scapegoat.

Jaiswal said, “It is true that there will be an inquiry into the project and action will be taken against those found guilty. However, it is also important to know the origin of the park concept.”

“The project was the dream project and election manifesto of the local MLA and the ruling party. The project was tabled in the general body twice for approval but no questions were raised on the work. The tenders too were approved in the standing committee. The notion of suspending one officer for a project, in which many others had an interest, is unfair,” said Jaiswal.

Jaiswal said that if any elected representative, MLA or MP puts forth a project in future, none of the officers will be willing to take it forward. “The general body should think about hurling allegations against one officer. The inquiry will reveal many hidden truths and while the general body has demanded action against the officer, we want similar action to be taken against others who are found guilty as per the report.”

We did not blame anyone, says Sena

Following the allegations on the elected representatives of the ruling party and the promise to reveal the truth in the inquiry, the Sena immediately took a U turn.

Leader of the House Naresh Mhaske, who had demanded action against the engineer on Thursday, said, “We did not blame the administration or any civic official. We only want an inquiry if there are irregularities. We do not want any CID-level inquiry. A committee with our officials and general body members along with experts can conduct the inquiry.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) lost some of their aggressiveness on Friday. But they were firm on inquiring how the project estimates were prepared, the rate analysis done and the actual work of the park carried out.

JAISWAL’S TAKE

The concept of the theme park at Manpada was mooted in 2007 but nothing happened till 2012-13.

In 2013, local MLA Pratap Sarnaik again reviewed the concept and a rough estimate of the park was prepared.

The general body gave in-principle approval to the proposal in 2014, but the question of funding was still unanswered.

The corporation first decided to construct the park under build-operate-transfer, however there was no response for it.

There was lot of pressure from the local MLA and other elected representatives to go ahead with the project as it was their dream project and election manifesto.

The project finally got a green signal in December 2014.

THE IRREGULARITIES

As per the original tender document, the train installed at the park was supposed to have two engines and three bogies. It was supposed to accommodate 24 adults and 36 children and run at 30 km per hour. The train installed at the park is a toy train in which no human can fit in. The train is not operational. The tender also listed a 12-foot statute of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, a 12-foot statue of Lord Shankar and an old armoured ship. The statues of Shivaji and Lord Shankar in the park are a one-foot statue. The boat kept in the creek is in tatters. The creek has no water. The Mumbra Devi temple, Ghodbunder fort and MH High School models, for which TMC was charged around Rs1.5crore, are nowhere in the garden.

For both the projects, three companies filed the tenders with exactly the same bidding percent. The same consultant was appointed in both the projects. The tender was finalised with almost five percent less that the estimated cost

First Published: Sep 29, 2018 00:26 IST