Mumbai Fire Brigade chief removed

Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal has written to the Maharashtra urban development department to remove Kale's name from the list of officers who will be recommended by Maharashtra government to the President's Office for the award.

In an embarrassment for the country’s oldest fire brigade, Shashikant Kale, who was holding the additional charge of the Mumbai Fire Brigade’s chief fire officer (CFO), was on Wednesday removed from his post after it was found that he had hidden information of corruption charges against him while applying to be considered for the President’s Meritorious Service Awards, which are to be given out on Republic Day.

Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal has written to the Maharashtra urban development department to remove Kale’s name from the list of officers who will be recommended by Maharashtra government to the President’s Office for the award.

In his application for recommendation for the award, Kale, a deputy chief fire officer who was given the additional charge of the CFO, had not disclosed that in a span of 14 years, he had been suspended twice on corruption charges, and that there had been adverse notings in his Annual Confidential Report (ACR).

On November 24, Chahal had written to Mahesh Pathak, Principal Secretary (Urban Development), stating that Kale had filed “false” information in a form that has to be filled out by those recommended for the President’s award. “Following this, Kale’s name from recommendation for meritorious service medal should be taken back,” Chahal said in his letter.

Officials said that Kale will face an inquiry. Chahal did not respond to calls and messages.

A day after Chahal asked for his name to be struck off the recommendations list, Kale was stripped of his additional charge. Now, another deputy chief fire officer, K V Hivrale, has been given the additional charge of CFO. Joint Municipal Commissioner (General Administrative) Milin Sawant issued an order on Wednesday stating that Kale should no longer hold the charge of CFO, and that this responsibility should be give to Hivrale.

An official said that those recommended for the award have to submit details of the ACR for the last 10 years. “The awards are given to persons who have clean ACR for 10 years. Kale was suspended six years ago,” said the source, adding that the matter came into light during the scrutiny of the names.

In 2014, then municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte had suspended Kale, as he was found guilty of issuing a no objection certificate to a proposal for a building in Mahim, despite the builder clearly violating a Supreme Court order that directed that 6 m space be left around the building. In 2015, then commissioner Ajoy Mehta had also given strict remarks against Kale. He further faced suspension in another case in 2006.

In 2016, Kale was made the CFO of the Thane Fire Brigade. Last year, he was back in Mumbai Fire Brigade as the deputy chief fire officer. Just three months ago, he was given additional charge of the CFO after then CFO Prabhat Rahangdale was promoted as the deputy municipal commissioner.

Despite attempts, Kale could not be reached for comment.

Every year, the Mumbai Fire Brigade sends the names of officials and firefighters for the President’s Meritorious Service Award. This year, Kale sent his own name and that of one other fireman. The medals are given to personnel of fire service, home guards and civil defence.

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