Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) commissioner Tukaram Mundhe on Wednesday suspended in charge of property tax department Prakash Kulkarni on charges of alleged “administrative irregularities”.
Interestingly, Kulkarni was felicitated last month for grossing up a record revenue of Rs516 crore for NMMC, which is Rs109 crore more from last financial year.
While Mundhe himself did not react to the development, other civic officials chose to keep quiet over the matter and did not elaborate what “administrative irregularities” mean. This is the second suspension that has taken place after Mundhe took over as civic chief on May 2. Earlier, during his visit to Digha ward office, the civic chief had suspended deputy sanitary inspector for not attending the meeting despite being informed about the same.
The property tax department is an important source of revenue for the civic body. With LBT and cess gone, its importance has increased even further as it is now the highest revenue generating department informed sources from NMMC.
The suspension of assessor and collector, deputy municipal commissioner (property tax) Prakash Kulkarni for administrative irregularity, on Wednesday, by municipal commissioner Tukaram Munde, has shocked the civic administration.
The decision is being seen as a sign of things to come in the civic body where several officials have held their posts for years with no transfers happening.
Munde, immediately on take charge, spelt out his plans on how the civic administration should function.
He set out, detailing everything from dress code to style of functioning and reporting. While there was immediate effect of the instructions, not many expected him to take swift action, that too against one of the top civic officials in the city.
Kukarni’s firing on the basis that he did not conform to the standards set by Munde has stunned several in the civic administration.
Kulkarni has been heading the property tax department for the past nine years. Such strong action against him has hit hard the concept of one officer rule in various departments of the civic body.
The officers who have been holding on to their posts for years are now getting the jitters.
A civic official, who did not wish to be named, said, “The property tax department is an important source of revenue for the civic body. With LBT and cess gone, its importance has increased even further as it is now the highest revenue generating department,”
He said, “However, for the past few years, the department has been managed by a specific few officials and personnel who seem to have a stranglehold over it. Kulkarni himself has been at the helm since 2007.”
According to a civic source, “In the past three weeks, following detailed study of the department’s f unctioning, t he commissioner reached a conclusion that there are serious ir re gularities in the functioning of the department.”
He added, “He found that there are problems with records of properties registered and other anomalies. It was then that the commissioner ordered the suspension on Wednesday and ordered an inquiry.” The property department charge has now been given to LBT department chief Umesh Wagh.
Residents and activists welcomed the move as they hope that similar exercises will help clean up the administration “The property tax department was being virtually ruled as a personal fiefdom. Specific personnel had been working here for years. According to the norms, there have to be transfers affected every three years, but some people have been posted here for five to 10 years with no intention of leaving.
This had led to functioning as per their whims and fancies,” said a city-based activist, who did not wish to be named.