Now, a chief auditor to check BMC expenses
Move irks the Shiv Sena, which sees it as interference by the state in a civic body’s affairs. Besides, a petition is pending since 2012 before the Bombay high court against the state appointing a chief auditor for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).mumbai Updated: Jun 21, 2016 01:13 IST
The BJP-led government in Maharashtra has named a chief auditor to monitor the expenses of Mumbai’s civic body, which its ally the Shiv Sena rules.
The move has irked the Sena, which sees it as interference by the state in a civic body’s affairs. Besides, a petition is pending since 2012 before the Bombay high court against the state appointing a chief auditor for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
A senior state finance department official told HT that municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta had asked the government to make the appointment.
In an order issued on June 15, the state government appointed Suresh Bansode, joint director (administration) at the Navi Mumbai Local Fund Audit Directorate, chief auditor of the BMC.
The Sena and the BJP are locked in a bitter tussle in the run-up to the civic polls early next year, and the state’s order could turn the latest flashpoint. There has been little audit of the BMC’s expenditure though its budget is larger than that of many small states. With several allegations of scams in the BMC, citizens’ groups have been demanding that there should be a proper audit of the taxpayers’ money spent by the civic body whose last annual budget totaled Rs37,000 crore.
In 2011, the Municipal Corporations and Municipal Councils Act was amended to say the post of chief municipal auditor shall be filled by the state government from the Maharashtra Finance and Accounts Services. The government then appointed a chief auditor. This was challenged in the high court by a union of civic employees - Municipal Mazdoor Sangh - in 2012. With high court ordering a stay on the matter in 2012, the BMC never implemented the state’s order.
The latest move evoked mixed reactions from corporators. The Sena’s Yashodhar Phanse, standing committee chairman, said, “The Sena has always opposed any interference by the state government as the rights of the civic officials and the corporators should not be affected. Doubts will always arise whether an officer chosen by the state government will be fair.”
The BJP group leader, Manoj Kotak, said, “The matter is still in the court of law and the state’s order is not yet executed. Once the proposal is tabled in front of us, we will then take the decision that is best for the citizens.”
Sandeep Deshpande, group leader of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), said, “After the roads and nullah desilting scam that came to light, an auditor may expose more frauds carried out by civic officials. The internal auditors have not carried out an audit of more than 2 to 3 per cent of our budget when they should be checking 25 per cent.”
Apart from the BMC, the state government appointed chief auditors for several irrigation corporations that had seen scams. Bharti Jhade will hold the post in the Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation; Anant Tare in the Godavari-Marathwada Irrigation Development Corporation; Vinayak Sathe in the Tapi Valley Irrigation Corporation; and Kashinath Shinde in the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation, Nagpur.
Further, Madhav Nagargoje will be chief auditor of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA); Bibhishan Tambde chief accounts and audit officer of the Maharashtra Water Conservation Corporation, Aurangabad; and Ravindra Shelke finance and accounts officer for Mumbai University.
Ravindra Sawant will be chief auditor at the MIDC, which was recently in a controversy over a land deal by the former revenue minister Eknath Khadse.