NMC’s bogus travel scam exposed

NAGPUR: Travel bills claimed for four persons although only two travelled. A reply to an RTI query has pointed out this bungling worth Rs 40,816 in the Nagpur Municipal Corporation. What gives it serious nature is the involvement of top NMC leaders including mayor, standing committee chairman, ruling party leader and opposition leader.

As per information, the state government had sent a letter dated November 13, 2009, to NMC, inviting mayor, chairman of standing committee, ruling party leader and opposition leader for a programme organized to take part in the draw for reservation of mayor’s post. The programme was organized on November 17, 2009. Maya Iwnate was the mayor at the time.

A notification was made from the mayor’s office. In it, the mayor’s personal assistant said, “Mayor, chairman of standing committee, ruling party leader and corporator and MLA Krishna Khopde will attend the programme. Mayor has directed approval of air travel fare for the four persons.” The then municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta approved it and wrote a remark “as per government invitation”.

Later, the personal assistant of then mayor Maya Iwnate wrote another notification which said that mayor Maya Iwnate, chairman of standing committee Pravin Bhisikar, ruling party leader Anil Sole and MLA Krishna Khopde had attended the programme.

Air travel and other expenses of mayor and others came to Rs 20,408 per head, taking the total expenses to Rs 81,632. “The receipts of TA and DA have been attached. Grant bills of Rs 81,632,” the notification stated.

After approval of senior clerk from general administration department, the then additional deputy municipal commissioner Prakash Bokhad and municipal secretary Harish Dubey signed on the notification, giving it approval on December 7, 2009. Later, the notification went to finance department and amount was sanctioned.

However, the programme was attended only by Sole and Bhisikar. Iwnate and Khopde did not attend. “I along with Bhisikar attended the programme. On behalf of administration, deputy commissioner Rizwan Siddiqui attended the programme,” Anil Sole said.

Khopde told TOI, “I remember that I was in Mumbai on that date along with MLAs Vikas Kumbhare and Sudhakar Deshmukh for our meeting. But I did not attend this programme. I couldn’t have done it as the invitation was for only mayor, chairman of standing committee, ruling party leader and opposition leader. I have no idea about any such proposal,” he said.

Iwnate also confirmed that she had not attended the programme and only Sole was present. “I have no idea about any such financial notification,” she said.

The question is who pocketed Rs 40,816, the travel expenses of Khopde and Iwnate who didn’t attend the programme in Mumbai.

Another red flag is that Khopde’s name was included in the list even though the government invitated NMC office-bearers. Khopde has accepted the fact that he was not supposed to attend the said programme.

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