BMC has decided to set up a grievance cell in each of its 24 wards to verify the claims of harassment under the scheme of clean-up marshal. The move comes at a time when there is a growing opposition to this scheme after it was revived in June.
The cell,headed by the assistant engineer (AE) of the solid waste management (SWM) department and a senior employee of the clean-up marshal company employed in the respective ward,will be open to all citizens on all working days of the week. Our SWM department is drawing up a circular that will be issued to every ward office.Within the next 15 days,we aim to set-up this cell for every ward. The AE and the senior representative from the clean-up marshall company will have to decide on a standard time everyday to sit and hear citizens complaints of harrassment or any other problems that they have with regard to the scheme. This way,a public complaint willl be made to the company in the presence of a civic officer. We will also have official records of the feedback, deputy muncipal commissioner Prakash Patil,in-charge of the SWM department said.
In 2006,BMC as part of its Clean-Up Mumbai campaign,had first initiated the clean-up marshal programme. Based on the programme,marshals are employed to monitor the city and fine those who litter,defecate and dirty public property. They are empowered to impose fines ranging from Rs 100 to 20,000.
In 2011,following allegations of corruption and improper conduct by the marshals,the BMC terminated the programme. However,following a Bombay High Court order,the scheme was restarted in June.
With the scheme being revived,corporators of the civic standing committee recently alleged corruption in the scheme and claimed marshals were harassing citizens and taking advantage of the scheme. Barely three months into its revival,the project has already collected Rs 2.5 crore in fines.
We are not keen to scrap the scheme yet because we expected it to be met with some opposition. It will take time before the programme can run smoothly because it involves major changes. People dont like being fined for littering. It involves a change of attitude which will not happen overnight. However,we are taking the allegations of harrasment seriously and so are setting up this cell, said Patil.