Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Rajesh Patil, whose tenure was riddled with controversies, run-ins with elected representatives, and verbal duels with activists, has been suddenly transferred as the managing director of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
Patil will be replaced by IAS office Shekhar Singh, who is currently holding the charge as district collector, Satara. He served only for one and half years, one of the shortest tenures for a commissioner in the PCMC. Even his predecessor Shravan Hardikar was not only given the mandatory three-year tenure, but he was also given a few months of extension.
Patil’s transfer order from the state government landed in the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) headquarters minutes after he had launched his latest initiative—Mission Zero Waste Slum. “When I had made a presentation before him of having slums with zero waste, the commissioner immediately extended his support. He said it is very much needed and could be first of its kind in the state,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner Anna Bodade.
Earlier, Patil had taken a policy decision to bring transgenders into the mainstream by providing them jobs within the civic body. First, he appointed them as security guards, then as green marshals and now they have also been allowed to collect property tax from citizens. “I will rate him as a sincere officer. He had a vision and he was sincere in his effort,” said Dr Anil Roy, who retired earlier this month as the PCMC health chief.
Patil’s transfer has drawn mixed reactions from citizens, activists and former corporators. While activists are unequivocal in debunking the style of functioning of the outgoing commissioner, former corporators are divided—some praised him and some are seeking a probe into several of his decisions which, they allege, would cause loss to the PCMC.
If officers are in awe of him, some of the former corporators have strong reservations about the way the commissioner functioned. “Just because some citizens were protesting against civic inconveniences, Patil put them in jail after getting an FIR filed against them. I don’t remember any commissioner in the history of Pimpri-Chinchwad treating citizens with such harshness,” said Seema Savale, former PCMC standing committee chairperson.
Savale demanded that all his decisions as the administrator—Patil was appointed as administrator by the state government on March 13 after PCMC general body was dissolved, be probed. Savale said, “After he became administrator, Patil took several decisions which seem to be more against the citizens’ interest. I think the state government should put all its decisions under the scanner.”
Echoing the same views, activist Manav Kamble said, “Not only his decision as administrator, even those he took before becoming the administrator should also be probed by the state government.”
Kamble said, “When Patil joined PCMC citizens had high hopes of him as he came from Orissa cadre where he had reportedly successfully implemented pro-people policies. But here in Pimpri-Chinchwad, he was anti-people. He had an attitude. He behaved rudely with not only citizens and activists but also with elected representatives. Recently, when we had met him regarding the rise in charges for patients at YCMH hospital, he said he will do so as it was his right. He was not ready to listen to bring down the rates.”
Lahoo Landge, a citizen, said, “When citizens were battling a difficult period during Covid, Patil’s administration was demolishing structures. He should have waited for things to get normal after Covid played havoc with citizens’ lives. But his administration refused to listen to citizens’ desperate pleas.”
Rahul Kalate, former Shiv Sena corporator, however, said if Patil had been given one more year, he would have drastically changed the face of Pimpri-Chinchwad. “He took several initiatives which were all in the public interest. Not just that, he even put contractors who were calling the shots in PCMC in place. He broke the hegemony of contractors.”
Another former corporator Yogesh Behl, of the NCP, said, “The commissioner took several positive decisions not only in the interest of citizens but also for civic employees. He promoted 350 civic employees. It was a decision which was pending for years. He was tough and some gift that a different color and criticized him. This was highly unfair.”
BJP Pimpri-Chinchwad president Mahesh Landge said, “Though the commissioner has had short tenure, he is not the only one transferred in the state. The new government has taken the decision as per standard practice. As BJP unit, we believe he took several initiatives but due to Covid restrictions for the better part of his tenure, he could not implement them fully.”