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Thursday, December 17, 1998

What about Anand Dighe, Mr Chief Minister?

MUMBAI, Dec 16: When Chief Minister Manohar Joshi tabled the Nandlal committee report on corruption in the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) and reeled out names of 49 corporators indicted by the report, he missed mentioning -- either by design or by oversight -- two very important names: Anand Dighe and Vasant Davkhare.

Joshi apparently missed the woods for the trees by sticking to the indictment of the corporators alone, though the highlight of the report was the unequivocal slamming of Dighe, Thane's most powerful Shiv Sena leader and Davkhare, Congress leader and deputy chairman of the Legislative Council for ``interfering in the drive against illegal structures''.

In Nandlal's report, which has been lying with the government for about three months, Dighe and Davkhare appear in the chapter titled Interference in action against illegal constructions''. While Nandlal has given at least four instances of Dighe's blatant intereference in the demolition work of the TMC, Davkhare figures onlyonce.

Revealing the two leaders' patronage to illegal constructions, the report says: ``The TMC initiated action against illegal constructions by Anil Shelar opposite Panchganga Society in Zone A at Rabodi on November 14, 1996. Thane District Shiv Sena chief Anand Dighe personally went to the site and gave instructions to stop the action.''

Citing another instance it says: ``An illegal five-storey building owned by Mohan Gondkar on Nooribaba Durgah road was being demolished on November 30, 1996. Anand Dighe came to the site and stopped the demolition.''

In yet another case, it says: ``The corporation officials had started demolishing an illegal construction measuring 70 ft x 50 ft at Kopri on December 26, 1996, but Anand Dighe forced the officials to stop the action.''

The list of Dighe's acts of throwing his weight around the TMC doesn't end here. ``The Zone C officials were demolishing an illegal single-storey building constructed by K P Khairnar in Indiranagar on August 25, 1996. Anand Dighe sent amessage to the officials to stop the action. At 4.30 pm, Dighe met the zonal ward officer and made him stop the action.''

Nailing Davkhare the report says: ``The corporation on November 27, 1996, started demolishing an illegal structure belonging to Shivaji Desai and Bholanath Patil under police protection. The second floor of the building was demolished. The slab of first floor and a wall was also demolished. In the afternoon, MLA Vasant Davkhare, along with TMC leader of the opposition More and corporator Bhoir came to the site and stopped the demolition drive.''

This sort of interference in the functioning of the TMC is all the more serious than that by TMC corporators since neither Dighe nor Davkhare is part of the TMC.

While the chief minister announced that all the corporators indicted by Nandlal would be referred to the Lokayukta and departmental inquiries set up against the officials involved, for the moment it would seem that Dighe and Davkhare will be free to keep the bulldozer at bay.

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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