Mumbai: SRA lacks teeth to nab errant officers

Mumbai: The slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) lacks a vigilance cell when compared to other state housing authorities such as the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority and Shivshahi Punarvasan Prakalp Ltd.

In the absence of a proper mechanism and a vigilance cell, often complaints raised by slum dwellers and other alert citizens against errant officials remain unattended, said activists.

Godfrey Pimenta, an activist and an advocate, said that though there is a high-powered committee controlled by the SRA chief executive officer (CEO) and few members nominated by the court, which has been formed as per the directions of the Bombay High Court (HC) a few years ago, it solely deals with problems related to the SRA scheme. The panel is powerless to take action against the errant officers.

“Several times it has been observed that when people visit the SRA office in Bandra for work, they experience significant difficulties like the information is not given properly.

As most of them are uneducated and do not have a technical and other related knowledge, they are guided wrongly. Officers being high-handed in nature, the common man living in a slum has to undergo significant pain. If a vigilance cell is set up, then they can raise their voice against such officers,” said Pimenta.

Another activist Sulaiman S Bhimani said, “filing a complaint in the high-powered committee is not so easy. Moreover, only an advocate is allowed to talk in that committee.

In fact, to file a petition any advocate would charge a good amount of money. Coming from a poor family, the fees of an advocate is unaffordable, thus ma­ny prefer to remain silent.”

He further added that Mumbai will not become slum-free until there is a direct source where the affected slum dwellers can lodge complaints. Mumbai slums’ woes will continue to remain the same.

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