After a long delay, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has once again deployed its clean-up marshals in seven administrative wards across the city from July 1. These marshals are authorized to fine people, found littering in public spaces, up to Rs 1000.
In April, the civic body appointed 22 private security agencies to appoint marshals at crowded places including markets, railway stations, beaches, and hawking zones to ensure cleanliness. While the scheme was supposed to have started in May, a delay ensued as the security firms could not get police clearances and a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the police.
Officials from the Solid Waste Management (SWM) department said since 5-6 agencies have now received the police clearances, they have been appointed in seven wards including Byculla (E ward), Matunga (F North), Bandra west (H West), Kandivali (R South), Borivli (R Central), Kurla (L) and Ghatkopar (N). “Over 150 marshals have been deployed in these wards since July 1. In the rest of the city, the marshals will be appointed soon after the agencies submit police clearances,” said Vijay Balamwar, deputy municipal commissioner in charge of the SWM department.
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Balamwar further said that the remaining agencies have also applied for police clearances. “The ward officers have been asked to chalk out a plan about deployment of these clean-up marshals in their wards,” he added.
Officials from the SWM said that unlike the last time, the marshals will be given receipt books with the offence as well as penalty mentioned, to ensure people are not charged more than a pre-fixed fine. Some of the controversial clauses of the scheme include Rs 20,000 for dumping illegal debris and Rs 10,000 fine for improper disposal of bio-medical waste.
The clean-up marshal scheme, first started in 2007, has been abandoned twice – in 2011 and in 2014 – by the civic body amidst complaints of corruption and high-handedness by the marshals.
Residents are expressing displeasure at the civic body’s move to restart the scheme without any prior publicity. “Ideally, they should have put up hoardings outside the ward offices and in prominent locations in the wards. It is not fair to fine citizens unaware about the marshals,” said Nikhil Desai, a Matunga resident.