Mumbai disaster cell still doesn’t have dedicated three-digit helpline

Civic officials said they face several difficulties during the monsoon owing to the absence of such a dedicated number.

Written by Vishwas Waghmode | Mumbai | Published: June 21, 2016 2:10:19 am

Two years after telephone number 108 — earlier allotted to Mumbai’s disaster management service as a centralised hotline — was given instead to the emergency medical services, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is yet to get another three-digit number to replace it.

Civic officials said they face several difficulties during the monsoon owing to the absence of such a dedicated number.

Officials said the 108 has been relocated by the government to its emergency medical services (EMS) in Pune in January 2014.

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The toll-free number 108 had been given to the municipal corporation in 2003 by the Centre for its disaster cell. After allotting it to the EMS, the BMC was told to apply for a fresh toll-free number.

“Since then, we had written to the state government numerous times asking to request the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) to allot us a new three-digit number of the disaster management. However, nothing happened on it until last month,”said an official requesting anonymity.

“Shockingly, after one of the monsoon preparedness meeting this year, the state government wrote to us informing that MTNL has been asked to allot the number,” he added.

Currently, the BMC is using the number 1916 for disaster management related activities, including monsoon. The same number is also used for registering civic complaints ranging from water pipeline leakages to illegal encroachments to fumigation requirements, among others.

MTNL cannot allot the three-digit number, added the official. “Surprisingly, the 108 number is still shown as the disaster management number on the website of the Department of Telecommunication (DoT). So outside Maharashtra, people may call it if they need any help during emergency,” the official added.

“During monsoon, it is difficult as we are overloaded with monsoon-related complaints and civic complaints on the same number. As a metropolitan city and considering its disaster-prone nature, Mumbai must have a separate disaster management number. It is inconveniencing Mumbaikars and civic staff,” said another official.

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