MUMBAI: Alarmed by the refusal of transferred, retired and dismissed officials to vacate government quarters in the city, the state government on Thursday promulgated stringent rules to provide for disconnection of water, power and piped gas supply of the premises.
According to an order issued by undersecretary Anuradha Khanvilkar, if a government employee does not vacate the quarters within three months after retirement, transfer or dismissal, the state will disconnect the water, power and piped gas supply and impose a fine of Rs 150/sq ft per month.
According to a senior bureaucrat, the new rules are based on the house allotment norms prescribed by the Centre in 2017. “The CM has made it clear that hereafter, there will be no out-of-turn allotment for any officer, IAS or IPS,” he added.
The bureaucrat said that several IAS and IPS officers have secured quarters in prime government properties, including Yashodhan in Nariman Point, Belle Haven near Bombay Hospital in Marine Lines, and Amber–Avanti at Malabar Hill though they were ineligible. “Surprisingly, while signing the files, the erstwhile CMs did not check if the IAS or IPS official concerned was eligible for a government quarter in Yashodhan, Belle Haven, or Amber–Avanti. All these cases have been brought to the notice of the incumbent CM,” he said. “We do not know if the government will ask the erring officials to vacate these quarters.’’ The bureaucrat pointed out that quite a large number of IAS and IPS officers did not vacate their Mumbai quarters even after they had been transferred outside the city. “The biggest challenge before the administration will be to ensure that the quarters are vacated within the stipulated period after his transfer. Government must recover penal rent from them… most of these erring bureaucrats and IPS officials are always in the limelight,’’ he said.
The bureaucrat said the state will soon take a policy decision not to allot government quarters to members of boards and statutory commissions. “According to our estimates, more than 30 quarters in prime locations are occupied by the members of such boards and commissions, as a result, there is an acute shortage of quarters for serving bureaucrats and IPS officers. The CM will have to make hard decisions.”
TIMES VIEW: This is a step in the right direction. Not only must officials vacate their quarters in time, they must pay the penalty if they have overstayed, and the state government must also look into cases where there are allegations that quarters have been allocated to officials who are not eligible in the first place.