Speaker complains about defective water heater, official suspended

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Nagpur, Nov 26 (UNI) A government official was suspended amid an opposition uproar after Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker Babasaheb Kupekar complained, during question hour today, about a defective solar water heater installed at his residence and the lack of response from the agency concerned to rectify the fault.

Minister for Non-Conventional Energy Vinay Kore announced that the official, identified as Sunil Mhambate, was being suspended.

A visibly upset Mr Kupekar brought the issue to the notice of the House during supplementaries, and said that he had paid Rs 40,000 for a solar water heater to be installed at his residence in Kolhapur. However, the heater had not worked even one time, and a mechanic identified five faults, he said.

Besides, the agency concerned had charged him for a heater of 250 litres while actually supplying one of 180 litres only, Mr Kupekar said.

''I made several complaints to the officials, including Mhambate, who is a general manager, I think. However, there has been no response. My secretary spoke to Mhambate four times during the last six months, and I spoke to him from Nagpur four days ago, but to no avail,'' he also said, amid cries of ''shame, shame'' from the opposition benches.

''I finally got a gas geyser installed at my residence. However, it seems that the subsidy being given for solar energy units is being misused. Who is this official? I have not seen such an arrogant and irresponsible officer before. This is very unfortunate. The Government should suspend him,'' the Speaker said, rejecting a suggestion from Narsayya Adam (CPM) to move a breach of privilege motion against Mhambate.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Harshavardhan Patil's assurance that the matter would be taken seriously and action would be initiated before the current session ended, triggered an uproar from the opposition benches, with the members trooping into the well of the House raising slogans against the official and the Government.

Leader of the Opposition Ramdas Kadam said that the incident showed that officials had no respect for anybody, including people's representatives and the presiding officers. The official should be suspended forthwith, failing which the opposition would stall the House, he warned.

Gopinath Munde (BJP) said that it was unfortunate that the Speaker had to make a complaint in his capacity as a people's representative. The incident showed that the Government had no control over the administrative machinery and officials, he said.

UNI

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