Mumbai: All parties reacted aggressively to the administration's proposal to cancel new recruitments to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Instead, the standing commitee demanded that the appointments of Officers on Special Duty, advisors and fellows recently recruited by the corporation be scrapped.
Further, the standing committee slammed the administration for working on its own, without taking into consideration the views of corporators and citizens before acting on the hawkers policy.
Shiv Sena leader Vishakha Raut said the administration wanted to deny employment to youth. If the BMC were in dire financial straits, then why would it not cancel the appointments of OSDs, fellowships and advisors, she demanded to know and sought information of the expenditure incurred on these appointments.
The BMC administration had recently tabled a proposal for 810 clerical positions, which was withdrawn on Friday, citing the poor economic situation. Angered, the opposition leaders accused the civic chief of benefiting private contractors. On this matter, the ruling Shiv Sena, also stood with the opposition. The members alleged that by stopping new recruitment, the commissioner had opened the way for the privatisation of the BMC. The group leader of the Samajwadi Party, Rais Shaikh, said, "Though the BJP has been ousted from power in the state, the BMC commissioner is still the BJP’s."
During the discussion on the civic budget, the BJP's Prabhakar Shinde, Congress leader of the opposition Ravi Raja, SP's Rais Sheikh, NCP's Rakhi Jadhav and the Shiv Sena's Vishakha Raut and Rajul Patel reportedly expressed displeasure over several decisions in the budget.
Raja said, “The provision of Rs 12 crore was made for recruitment to 810 clerical posts in BMC, but while presenting Budget 2020-21, the commissioner said there would be no new recruitments, as the corporation is facing a financial crisis.”
If this is the condition, then all the consultants, fellowships and OSDs should be cancelled, why are even they needed?”
After listening to the talk of the members, additional commissioner Velu Rasu said, the engineering department was shortstaffed by 30 per cent. In view of the current economic situation, it has been decided not to recruit new employees but should the situation change, recruitment would be started again.
The standing committee raised questions on the issue of hawkers policy and the demarcation on the footpaths without taking citizens and corporators into confidence.
The implementation of the hawkers policy should not cause injustice to pedestrians, the standing Committee said. Hawking locations could not be decided without taking into account councillors and citizens, it held. Officers who were moving hawkers wherever they wanted ought to be questioned and punished, the committee said.
Standing Committee chairman Yashwant Jadhav has directed the municipal administration to present detailed information on the total number of hawkers in Mumbai, how many are bogus, and what action has been taken against these bogus hawkers so far and how the administration planned to implement its new policy.
The standing committee members were agitated as, without their knowledge the BMC had started implementing the policy and with yellow patches demarcation the areas where the hawkers would be shifted.
Corporators across party lines said that citizens were outraged by the municipality's arbitrary decision to place the 'feriwalas' anywhere, without taking any suggestions from the citizens. They feared that a law and order situation could arise due to conflicts between hawkers and the citizens/ pedestrians.
Sena leader Vishakha Raut said, "The residents in my ward have protested the BMC’s decision to place hawkers anywhere and also complained that 1x1 feet yellow demarking was done on the footpaths, to shift hawkers to places where they never used to be before, at Baburao Parulekar Marg in Dadar."
Opposition leader Ravi Raja pointed out, "The law enacted on the policy of hawkers says qhawkers should not be shifted to any new place but have to be given an alternative at their existing place where they are conducting their business since several years. Also there are many areas where there are no hawkers but now with this policy, even those areas will face a problem due to hawkers. Before starting with the implementation, corporators and citizens should be included in the committee for policy-making.”
Shiv Sena corporator Tukaram Patil too expressed strong opposition to the implementation of the new hawkers policy without taking local councillors into confidence. He said citizens had come to ward offices in protest.
Meanwhile, corporators like Sujata Sanap, Vijender Shinde, Sujata Patekar, Rajul Patel, Arundhati Dudhwadkar, Asif Zakaria and Sanjay Ghadi also demanded that the corporators should be taken into confidence first.
In view of the objections raised by citizens and corporator, the long-awaited hawkers policy will be delayed further.