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Political leaders in the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) were taken by surprise on Wednesday night, after the civic administration informed them that, from Thursday (April 15), the standing committee meetings will take place on an online platform owing to the ongoing curfew in Maharashtra.
The standing committee is the major statutory body in the civic body that is responsible for clearing and referring back proposals of development projects. The meetings of this committee are held on Wednesdays every week. However, due to a public holiday, the committee was supposed to meet on Thursday.
Corporators said that the civic body had informed them on Wednesday night around 10 pm that Thursday's meeting will be held online. Later, on Thursday, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) corporator and group leader of the party Vinod Mishra and another corporator from his party Makarand Narwekar, had moved the Bombay High Court, challenging BMC's order. The HC accepted the civic body's statement and directed the administration to ensure that all the committee members get a chance to present their opinions and that all meetings are recorded.
Mishra, who earlier had challenged the decision, later shared his confidence in the HC ruling. "The good thing about the HC ruling is that they have ordered that the meeting should be recorded. This will help us to maintain transparency," Mishra told the Free Press Journal. "Many of my statements that I had presented during the physical meetings were not recorded," he added.
Earlier in the day, leaders of the opposition parties in BMC, had jointly written a letter to the standing committee chairperson Yashwant Jadhav and expressed their disapproval towards online meetings. In a letter signed by Ravi Raja, leader of opposition (LoP) in BMC, Samajwadi Party legislator and corporator from Nagpada Rais Shaikh and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) head in BMC Rakhee Jadhav said that, in online meetings, members are not given a uniform chance to vote for or against any proposal.
After the nationwide lockdown was imposed last year, the committee was temporarily dissolved and all the agendas were tabled for post-facto clearance after the committee meetings resumed last October. The leaders mentioned in the letter that, last time, an official order was issued by the civic administration that all the meetings would be held online. However, no such order has been issued to them this time. "We have sent the letter before the court judgment came. Now, we will have to follow the HC order, provided that all the minutes of the meeting is recorded," said Raja.