Maharashtra: NMC chief conducts aarti, then dishes out ‘prasad’

Nashik: His reputation precedes him, such is the aura of the fearless Indian Administrative Services officer Tukaram Mundhe, who is the municipal commissioner of Nashik. Wherever Mundhe has been posted, his tenure has not been without incident, especially when it comes to cracking down on corruption and lawbreakers.

On Wednesday, at 8.30am, Mundhe performed aarti with other devotees at the Kallika Temple in Nashik, having been invited to the temple on the first day of Navratri. On his way out, he noticed plastic bags in the stalls selling prasad near the temple. He first completed the aarti, accepted the shawl and coconut offered to him by temple authorities, but while leaving, the civic chief in him came to the fore and he swung into action with civic officials who were accompanying him.

Along with the Nashik municipal corporation officials and temple officials, he conducted a sudden inspection of all the stalls inside and outside the temple and observed they were all in violation of the state’s plastic ban, in force from June 23.  Infuriated at this brazen breach of the ban, he “ordered us to remove all the plastic by evening, or else he threatened to raze all our stalls,” said a vendor. Mundhe also warned the stall owners outside the temple, if they had encroached, they would face action.

The minister for environment, Ramdas Kadam, upon learning about this incident said, “The government is seriously implementing this ban and if a plastic bag is seen in any shop, it will be permanently sealed.” Further, Kadam said, as part of the implementation of plastic ban, now every shopkeeper would have to offer a signed undertaking they were not using plastic bags.

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