Civic works take a hit as 15 chief engineer posts vacant in BMC | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Civic works take a hit as 15 chief engineer posts vacant in BMC

By, Mumbai
Feb 14, 2024 08:48 AM IST

Posts of 15 chief engineers at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are lying vacant, causing delays and hampering ongoing projects. The absence of sub-engineers and junior engineers, who are on election duty, further exacerbates the situation. The posts are allegedly being deliberately kept vacant, forcing one deputy to do the work of two engineers. The need to fill these vacancies comes at a time when the BMC has increased its capital expenditure for development and infrastructure works. Over 800 engineer positions, including junior and sub-engineers, are currently vacant. The Municipal Engineers' Union has requested a reduction in the time required for promotion to chief engineer and called for recruitment advertisements. BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal cited issues with the seniority list as the reason for the vacancies and said that promotions for the 15 chief engineers are being processed.

Posts of 15 chief engineers (CEs), who head and monitor projects in crucial departments of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) such as roads and traffic, bridges, building proposals, development plan, sewerage, hydraulic, and storm water drains are lying vacant. What will further hamper the work on ongoing projects is the absence of sub-engineers and junior engineers, who have been deployed on election duty since February 10, civic officials said.

The BMC building is pictured during Earth hour in Mumbai. Lights went off around the world at 8.30pm local time in a show of support for renewable energy during Earth Hour, an event organised since 2007 to promote a sustainable future for the planet. (Prodip Guha/HT photo)
The BMC building is pictured during Earth hour in Mumbai. Lights went off around the world at 8.30pm local time in a show of support for renewable energy during Earth Hour, an event organised since 2007 to promote a sustainable future for the planet. (Prodip Guha/HT photo)

A civic official alleged that the posts are being deliberately kept vacant, so that the BMC has one deputy doing the job of two engineers. “There have been no promotions to the post of chief engineers for a year. The BMC is artificially creating a problem.”

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Commenting on problems the departments face, the official said, “Imagine a house functioning without a decision maker. Chief engineers are the bosses who monitor all projects. The deputy CE is handling two chairs. There is one case where an official is given two crucial departments of development plan and building proposal.”

The need to fill these vacancies arises at a time when BMC commissioner and administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal has increased the capital expenditure meant for development and infrastructure works by 25.5% at 31,774 crore in the budget for 2024-25.

Sainath Rajadhyaksha, working president, Municipal Engineers’ Union, said all 15 chief engineers are in-charge.

“The BMC has a condition that deputy CEs must serve for two or three years to become a CE. But this condition cannot be complied with since regular promotion is very delayed. We have therefore on multiple occasions requested that the condition be reduced to one year,” he said.

Alleging that Chahal has no interest in administrative work because recruitment of engineers has not taken place in the last one-and-a-half years, Rajadhyaksha said more than 800 of the 4,000 posts of engineers (including junior and sub-engineers) are vacant.

“For the last two years, I’ve been requesting that an advertisement be placed for recruitment. Engineers working at the ground level are overworked and stressed because one-third posts of sub-engineers and 50% of junior engineer positions are vacant. When junior-level engineers get promoted, their posts also get vacant,” he said.

In September 2022, Rajadhyaksha at an event requested chief minister Eknath Shinde to recruit engineers. The CM had apparently told Chahal to fill all posts to give better service to citizens.

“On the one hand new tenders for various infrastructure works are invited but there is a shortage of engineers. By not recruiting engineers, the BMC might save money, but it points to sheer negligence,” he said.

Rajadhyaksha further said Chahal has the special power to appoint CEs for six months and can further reappoint another CE if the former does not fulfil certain criteria. “This has led to the failure of the administration. About 800 engineers were recently sent to conduct the Maratha reservation survey. Now they have again been put on election duty which will further affect the workings of the administration.”

The crucial departments are taking a major hit as all engineers at the junior level are posted on election duty. “Until the elections are over, these junior engineers and sub-engineers will not report to duty and work will be halted at least for two months,” a civic official said.

When contacted, Chahal said, “The reason that chief engineers’ posts are not filled is because these CEs come from 14 different streams. There are various departments where they become CEs and deputy CEs. There is some seniority list issue that has come up. Two groups of CEs have questioned the seniority list. There is also one question of a particular CE who had some issue which is yet to be resolved.”

Because of this, Chahal said, he told the department of provision committee to promote 15 of them.

“It was decided that if we rushed through the promotions, these fellows might go to court like it has happened in the case of sub-engineers and deputy CEs which has been pending in the Bombay high court for more than one year. We said we would call all groups and settle the issue in-house. We had a meeting last Friday and we will try to solve this problem this week,” Chahal said.

Chahal further said 15 officers, once promoted, will continue to be attached to their current departments. “Only the pay scale is different. Otherwise, all are already doing what they are supposed to do after becoming CEs. It just has to officially happen on paper.”

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