Nitin Gadkari accuses Tukaram Mundhe of ‘grabbing position’ of Smart City agency CEO


A week after Nagpur Mayor Sandeep Joshi filed a criminal complaint against Municipal Commissioner Tukaram Mundhe, Union Road Transport, Shipping, and MSMEs Minister Nitin Gadkari has written a letter to Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh, on the same issue, accusing Mundhe of illegally taking over as the CEO of the Nagpur Smart and Sustainable City Development Corporation Limited (NSSCDCL).

Gadkari shot off the letter on Sunday, marking a copy to Union Minister of State for Urban Development Hardeep Singh Puri.

“I would like to bring to your kind notice with the deepest pain that Municipal Commissioner Tukaram Mundhe, who took charge of civic chief since January 28, 2020, had unlawfully and unconditionally grabbed the position of CEO of NSSCDCL. NSSCDCL was set up on July 1, 2016 and is a jointly-owned company of NMC and Maharashtra government. The Board of Directors comprises six nominee directors from NMC, four nominee directors from state government, one nominee director from Govt of India and two independent directors. The Municipal Commissioner is appointed as nominee director, CEO is to be appointed as executive director,” Gadkari stated in the letter.
He further said, “The last meeting of the board was held on December 31, 2019. It couldn’t meet after that. Then CEO Ramnath Sonone had resigned on February 11, 2020. According to Section 203 of the Company’s Act, the CEO is appointed by a board of directors in a duly- convened meeting. Mundhe has unlawfully and unconditionally grabbed the position of CEO and is repeatedly giving statements in media that Pravinsinh Pardeshi, chairman, NSSCDCL, had appointed him as CEO,” adding, ” the CEO can’t be appointed by the Chairman and must be appointed by the board.”

Gadkari has further charged Mundhe with “revoking the various unanimous decisions taken by board of directors, such as cancellation of approved tenders, termination of contractual employees in a situation like Covid-19, misappropriation of funds by introducing his signature in the current account maintained with Bank of Maharashtra.”

“In view of above, as Mayor and being one of the nominee directors and shareholders of the company, Joshi had lodged criminal complaint against Mundhe and Chief Finance Officer as well as Account officer of NSSCDCL under Sections 420, 463,464,465,466,468 and 471 of the IPC and 447 of the Company’s Act, for defrauding exchequer and usurping public money with an oblique motive to divert the public money for extraneous considerations and without any authority,” Gadkari stated in the letter.

The two officers mentioned in the letter, along with Mundhe, are Mona Thakur and Amruta Deshkar, respectively.

Gadkari has sought “strict action” against Mundhe “to prevent him from jeopardizing the ambitious central government-funded project.”

Last week, Joshi had filed a complaint with Nagpur Police, raising the same issues. The police had said they will study the matter before taking further action. Deputy Commissioner of Police Vinita Shahu said, “The complaint has been forwarded to seniors and they are looking into it.”

Mundhe has already dismissed the allegations as “ridiculous” and denied any illegality in his role in the smart city project.

The ruling BJP, with 108 seats in the 156-member NMC, has been at loggerheads with Mundhe ever since he took over as Municipal Commissioner. Mundhe started off by stopping various proposed projects and tenders, citing limited availability of funds. He has also been accused of bypassing the corporators and not attending their calls. Corporators across party lines accused him of behaving like a dictator, a charge he vehemently denied in a Facebook live interview.