Despite a standing committee unanimously voting to scrap the clean-up marshals programme,the civic administration said private marshals would continue to be in operation till their contract ends in July 2014.
Following complaints of harassment and extortion against clean-up marshals registered by citizens,the programme was scrapped in 2012,but was revived in July. The BMC has so far earned around Rs 11 crore from the programme since it was introduced in 2007.
Samajwadi Party corporator and standing committee member Rais Shaikh of M-east ward said,Clean-up marshals,who are authorised to fine offenders,act like a local mafia and harass citizens to pay a huge amount as fine. Instead of working throughout the day,they target a few offenders and collect large fines to meet their daily target. They even collect large amount as bribe.
Clean-up marshals,stationed in 24 wards,are empowered to levy fine amount ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 20,000. The amount collected is divided between the private contractor and BMC.
While corporators complain of high-handedness by the clean-up marshals,some say they are not seen in their wards. The clean up marshals can only be seen working in south Mumbai,and not in the suburbs. I havent ever seen a clean up marshal in my ward, said Saida Khan,Congress corporator from L-ward (Kurla)
PJ Patil,Deputy Municipal Commissioner in-charge of solid waste management,under whom the scheme falls,said,Our citizens do not complain of paying fines when they visit countries like Singapore and Dubai. If the system is to work here,it needs to be given more time until citizens learn to practice cleanliness in public.
Following criticism over the programme,corporators had asked for a stronger control mechanism to check harassment by clean up marshals. Patil added,BMC officials on Monday approved of appointing civic officials to look after citizen grievances. Every ward will now have a civic official to monitor complaints of citizens.
According to BMC data issued for July and August,maximum offenders were found in Bandra west,Andheri west,Matunga and Borivali.
The scheme,which was introduced in 2007,was later discontinued after allegations of corruption and improper conduct by the marshals surfaced. After an image makeover,the BMC decided to appoint security agencies of ex-servicemen,and modified the scheme to make it more effective.