BJP corporator under RTI suspicion after false billing Rs 10 lakh for 'garden-work'

ST Staff
Friday, 26 June 2020

Using Right To Information (RTI) it was found that Rs 10 lakh has been given to the corporator between 2017, and now for planting trees and beautification of the area, however, on visiting, it is noticed that not even 25 per cent of the work claimed has been done.

A few social workers have been after Archana Tushar Patil, a BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)a corporator from Bhavani Peth, Pune for generating a bill of Rs 10 lakh from the Pune Municipal Corporation where she professed to have planted several trees along the Shankar Sheth Road and also for doing some garden work under the bridge that runs through the road. She has been criticised and accused of generating a fake bill where she was not involved with any gardening activities and there is no evidence of her work.

A social worker, Atul Nade, who is investigating the matter spoke with Pune Mirror, saying, "We were looking for some information on Shankar Sheth Road bridge when we stumbled upon this claim of work having been done. So we sought more details using Right to Information (RTI) Act and unravelled that Rs 10 lakh has been given to the corporator between 2017, and now for planting trees and beautification of the area. However, if one visits the place, it is evident that not even 25 per cent of the work claimed has been done."

He also stated to have previously requested the garden department of the PMC to investigate the matter and conduct a spot visit to inspect the situation many times, but no one was interested and paid heed to his request. "The information we've received clearly states that 900 Ashoka trees were planted along the road's divider in Bhavani Peth, but there are hardly any trees to be seen in the area. This is exactly how the biggies squander public money on fraudulent activities. There is a spot under the bridge which was supposed to have been converted into a garden, according to the contractor's claim. But one finds there are a hundred saplings but no sign of garden," Nade further said.

The PMC garden department informed that Rs 8.89 lakhs were used up on trees like Ashoka, Tresina and Lily. Around Rs 50,000 were spent on transporting them and the rest was used up for soil and other related activities. The work was started by the year 2017 and the money was spent in the two consecutive years.

Pune Mirror quoted Manoj Kshirsagar, a social worker as saying, "We've been following up on the issue for almost a week now and have got no response from the authorities. As a last resort, we complained against Patil at the Khadak police station. The cops there too were hesitant about registering the complaint against the corporator and we had to wait three hours to see the process through."

A meeting was held by the social workers with Ashok Ghorpade who looks after the garden department, where he mentioned that work began in 2017 but maximum trees were planted along the road divider. Pune Mirror quoted Ghorpade as saying, "I have no idea on the subject. When I receive a complaint on it, further action will be initiated."

However, Patil opposed all the claims as false and said, "There has been continuous planting of trees by us since 2017. This was no fraudulent activity. All the money received from PMC has been utilised. A few trees and plants have died, but they too will be replaced soon."

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