BMC chief wins first challenge as engineers call off strike

Tells them no injustice will be done to those who are found innocent

Newly appointed Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi seems to have won his first battle. Following two-day discussions, the engineers who had gone on mass leave called off their strike on Tuesday.

As part of the investigation into the foot overbridge collapse outside Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in March that killed seven people, police recently arrested S.O. Kori, retired chief engineer of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Bridges Department. Mr. Kori was in charge of the department up until his retirement last year. The Azad Maidan police arrested him on charges of negligence. This is the fourth arrest in the case and the third of a municipal engineer.

Engineers from the department went on mass leave condemning the arrest, while those from other departments threatened to protest at Azad Maidan starting Wednesday. There are around 4,200 engineers in the BMC, of which 57 are employed by the Bridges Department. Of these, 42 had gone on mass leave.

The striking engineers held a meeting with the new municipal commissioner on Monday and Tuesday, following which they resumed work. Some of the issues they presented included the filling of vacant posts. According to a Right to Information query, about 40% of posts are vacant in the Bridges Department.

“We have also demanded that engineers be given training by IIT Bombay for about six to eight days because we are the ones who have to supervise structural auditors. It is a specialised job,” said Sainath Rajadhyaksha, president of the Municipal Engineers’ Union.

‘No criminal action’

The unions have demanded that no criminal action be initiated against municipal employees unless they are found guilty in a detailed departmental inquiry.

“If there is an intentional offence, action should definitely be taken. But if it is unintentional, municipal service rules have to be followed. Also, the BMC will be revisiting its standard operating procedure about inspection of bridges and fixing the responsibility of each officer,” said another representative of the joint action committee that met the commissioner.

A source privy to the meeting said, “The commissioner has assured them that no injustice will be done to those who are innocent. The commissioner has also directed the department to fill vacant posts through an in-house quota. Besides, we are constituting a Bridge Inspection Authority.”

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 7:30:41 AM |

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