10 reasons why citizens want Tukaram Mundhe and politicians don’t

10 reasons why citizens want Tukaram Mundhe and politicians don't
Tukaram Mundhe with Navi Mumbai residents. Picture Courtesy: Vijay Singh/Twitter

Minutes after politicians across party lines passed the no-confidence motion against Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) Chief Tukaram Mundhe, social media erupted with messages showing solidarity with the IAS officer.

As NMMC commissioner, Mundhe was lauded by city residents for taking stern action against hawkers, encroachers and illegal constructions. But his actions did not go down well with Corporators, many of whom allegedly had vested interests.

Political parties had also accused Mundhe of acting in an authoritarian manner, not respecting their elected representatives and taking arbitrary decisions.

“In a democracy, if you start behaving as if President’s rule has been imposed, then you are insulting democracy. It is dictatorial to scrap decisions that have been taken by a body elected by people. We will not tolerate this,” NMMC Mayor Sudhakar Sonawane had said on Mundhe’s style of functioning.

As a result, a no-confidence motion was introduced NCP house leader Jaywant Sutar and seconded by the Sena’s standing committee chairman Shivram Patil.

The motion was passed 105-6 on Tuesday afternoon in a special general body meeting of the NCP-ruled civic body, with all NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress members voting for Mundhe’s removal.

Only 6 members of BJP, out of the total 111, opposed the motion.

This is the first time in 26 years, since the formation of the NMMC, that a no-confidence motion has been demanded by political parties against the civic chief by members of the standing committee.

Incidentally, it is also the first time citizens, not political party workers or supporters, have unanimously come together to oppose the transfer of a government employee.

The final decision of removing Mundhe from his post as NMMC chief will be taken by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who can either accept or reject the motion.

Meanwhile, here’s a look at some of the reasons why Navi Mumbai residents are protesting against Mundhe’s transfer and politicians want him gone:

1. Track Record: Mundhe has been transferred eight times in the last ten years, a fate synonymous with honest civil servants. Before being handpicked by CM Fadnavis for NMMC, he was the District Collector of Solapur. During his tenure as collector, he took on the sand and land mafia, who went to the extent of orchestrating an attack on Munde earlier this year.

2. Suspension Of Officials: Mundhe has suspended at least ten NMMC officials for dereliction of duty since he took charge of NMMC in May 2016. Those suspended include Deputy Municipal Commissioner Prakash Kulkarni, Assistant Municipal Commissioners Sahebrao Gaikwad and Balkrishna Patil, Office Superintendent Balkrushna Patil and Clerk Subhash Sonawane.

3. Demolition In Gaothans: While the government was working towards regularization of all constructions in the gaothans that had come up before December 2012, Mundhe served notices to those who had made constructions post that. The civic chief even went ahead with the demolition per the government’s directive, a move which inadvertently unified all political parties against him and led them to call for a city-wide bandh.

4. Walk With Commissioner: After being approached by a resident while on his morning walk, Mundhe started a ‘Walk with Commissioner’ initiative, wherein he encouraged citizens to report everyday matters directly to him every Sunday morning. What’s more, the grievances and suggestions led to actual results, like the closure of illegal petrol pumps in Belapur.

5. Scrapping Unnecessary Projects: While corrupt government officials have been known to pass projects as long as their ‘cut’ is secured, Mundhe scrapped many multi-crore projects, which he deemed unnecessary. Among them were the construction of a Rs 20 crore marble statue of BR Ambedkar in Airoli and a solar project at Morbe Dam worth Rs 163 crore.

6. Spending Right: While one can argue the rationale behind scrapping certain projects, the allocation of the saved money is certainly not questionable. A major chunk of the money saved by scrapping expensive projects was spent on improving drainage, making the city disabled friendly, building pavements and recreational spaces.

7. Action Against Violators: In the first three months of taking charge as civic chief, the municipal body removed 1,916 illegal hawkers, 1,808 hutments and 1,010 hoardings. But the actions wasn’t limited to them. Another 2,492 commercial establishments were fined not not having the requisite Occupation Certificate (OC) and violating MRTP (Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices) rules.

8. Environment Friendly: To make Navi Mumbai more environment friendly, the NMMC chief sent a city-wide notice urging citizens to segregate their waste. Thousands of city residents now separate out their wet and dry waste, which is later sent for composting or recycling respectively.

9. Farm To Home Initiative: In October, NMMC started this initiative with an aim to help farmers and the consumers get better margins and fresh vegetables by eliminating middlemen. 7,000 people took part in the first phase of the program held on October 16.

10. Public Support: At a time when citizens are almost accustomed to corruption in government offices, Mundhe shines as a ray of hope for a better tomorrow. While his actions often face backlash from politicians, who are known to engage in vote bank politics, citizens have unequivocally stood by the civic chief. Moreover, thousands of citizens willingly standing by ‘a government official’ symbolizes a cataclysmic shift in the balance of power that our political parties aren’t exactly predisposed for.

There’s even an active online petition, addressed to CM Fadnavis for allowing Mundhe to complete his 3 year term in Navi Mumbai, which has garnered almost 6,500 votes as of writing this post.

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