PCMC demolition drive kept industrial town on the edge

The Year 2013 will go down in the history of the industrial town of Pimpri-Chinchwad as the one that saw strongest possible action initiated by the civic administration against illegal constructions. As a result, in the last six months, nobody — not even builders known for brazenly setting up illegal structures — have dared to raise an inch of illegal construction in Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Morchas have been carried out and protests staged, civic general body meetings were adjourned several times and standing committee meetings ended without transaction of any business, state legislature has been rocked, MLAs have resigned and corporators quit in a desperate bid to halt the drive against illegal constructions launched by Municipal Commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi days after he took charge in June 2012.

Much to the "dismay" of citizens and politicians, no amount of pressure — not even from Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar who holds sway in the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, and "seven life threats" to Pardeshi — has failed to stop the demolition drive. During the last one-and-a-half years, the PCMC administration has flattened over 500 structures — including over 2,200 flats — and has filed FIRs against 2,000 people, including builders.

The PCMC action is being described as the only-of-its-kind in Maharashtra. The neighbouring Pune Municipal Corporation, too, has not been able to match up.

Besides causing jitters through his drive, Pardeshi also tried to "bring in discipline" and "end corruption" in the civic functioning by transferring officials who had remained in the same position for years. So far, over 300 senior officials and lower grade employees have been shifted.

The civic chief has also not spared officials who faced charges. On his last day in office, a probe was initiated against a PCMC health chief and his perks held back following allegations of irregularities. Several officials faced action on a mere complaint from the citizens.

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