Taking note of rising complaints over bogus clean-up marshals and harassment by them, Mayor Kishori Pednekar will hold a review meeting along with the municipal commissioner and other civic officials on Monday.
Appointed for fining people without masks or spitting at public places amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) clean-up marshals have been at the centre of controversy for long for allegedly harassing citizens over the implementation of mandatory face mask rule.
Recently, several videos of verbal and physical fights between clean-up marshals and citizens over maks have gone viral. Last Tuesday, a fight broke out between people and clean-up marshals after an argument over face masks in Matunga.
Complaints of bogus clean-up marshals have also increased substantially. As per the BMC rule, all clean-up marshals appointed to fine people for not wearing face masks should be in uniform and show their identity cards. However, many posing as clean-up marshals do not wear uniforms and fine people.
Mayor Pednekar said the meeting will discuss these rising complaints. She also indicated that discontinuing of marshal services could be discussed.
“There are a lot of complaints of bogus clean-up marshals extorting money and harassing people. Earlier, I had warned the contractor agency after it was found they were misbehaving with people. Criminal complaints against bogus clean-up marshals and contractor will be filed,” Pednekar told The Indian Express.
When asked if the civic body is thinking of discontinuing the services of marshals, she said, “We don’t need them if every citizen starts following Covid-19 protocols like wearing face masks. They have been hired to implement these guidelines.”
In Mumbai, there are about 750 clean-up marshals appointed at key locations like railway stations, tourist places, bus stops to enforce mandatory face mask rule, which attracts Rs 200 fine. So far, more than Rs 71 crore has been collected from people as fine for not wearing face masks.
On October 1, a former opposition leader in BMC Pravin Chheda caught bogus clean-up marshals in Ghatkopar and filed a police complaint. ” These are only few we caught. I am sure similar groups of people pretending to be BMC marshals are spread across Mumbai. Police complaint has been lodged at Pant Nagar police station,” said Chheda.