But government says transfer of Commissioner was regular process

A week after the Maharashtra government transferred Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi, citizens and Opposition parties are continuing their protest demanding his reinstatement. The official, known for his stringent action against corrupt officials and demolition of illegal buildings, has served only half his tenure in the twin township near Pune.

Anna Hazare, anti-corruption crusader, has written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan asking why Mr. Pardeshi was transferred. “If honest officials are stopped from doing their duty, people should come out on the streets and protest,” Mr. Hazare said.

Mr. Pardeshi, who ordered the demolition of 487 illegal structures after he took charge on May 19, 2012, has earned the name of “demolition man.” He disconnected over 200 water connections provided to illegal constructions and drainage lines of 170 constructions. He filed criminal cases against more than 2,000 people for illegal construction.

Sources in the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) say Mr. Pardeshi had been under constant pressure from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to “slow down” his actions which sought to break the corporator-contractor nexus. Last year, he even complained of threats.

He transferred 1,500 officials who had been working in the same department of the Corporation for several years. He suspended more than 40 employees under disciplinary action. To implement e-governance, he introduced the “Sarathi” helpline, through which citizens can register complaints of civic works, challenging the corporators’ clout.

Calling his transfer a “cowardly” action, Vijay Kumbhar, RTI activist, said the Chief Minister had buckled under pressure from the NCP. “He is an honest official. We, as citizens, are disappointed that politics interfered with honesty,” Mr. Kumbhar said.

However, the State government said it was a regular “administrative process” conducted without bias.