Special Housing Society Cell: Chief Coordinator Hemant Khandekar Sheds Light On Purpose & Functions Of Unit Formed To Resolve Residents' Problems

Special Housing Society Cell: Chief Coordinator Hemant Khandekar Sheds Light On Purpose & Functions Of Unit Formed To Resolve Residents' Problems

After the FPJ broke the story of ordinary citizens protesting against the registrar’s office at Azad Maidan three months ago, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde took note and appointed a special housing cell.

Draupadi RoheraUpdated: Wednesday, February 21, 2024, 07:28 PM IST
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Hemant Khandekar | FPJ

Mumbai, February 21: What do you do when a ministry is totally unresponsive to hundreds of complaints from citizens about rampant corruption and malpractices in the registrar of housing societies office? You take your fight to the streets and make the government accountable.

After the FPJ broke the story of ordinary citizens protesting against the registrar’s office at Azad Maidan three months ago, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde took note. He has appointed a special housing cell under the Shiv Sena, his political party banner, to resolve people's problems. He has appointed Hemant Khandekar as the chief coordinator of this special cell. The FPJ spoke to Mr Khandekar in his office on Wednesday. Excerpts from an interview:

Why did CM Shinde constitute the cell and what is the purpose behind it?

The cell was set up some three months ago under the aegis of the Shiv Sena party. It has gained momentum after citizens’ protests demanding action against the registrar’s office. We were also receiving scores of complaints because members of housing societies in Mumbai were frustrated and angry as they were not able to get a resolution of their issues and complaints from the registrar’s office. I was asked by the CM to meet them and help them out. The idea was to intervene and facilitate action from the registrar’s office. The motive was purely social work.

Is it true that the CM is planning to hold an open public durbar soon on this issue?

Yes…He wants to personally meet citizens facing issues related to cooperative housing societies and help them out. So a special durbar is in the works. We will announce the date and venue soon.

What is the nature of this special cell? This is not a government body and therefore, has no administrative powers. Its a Shiv Sena party vibhag - political in character and functioning like a parallel authority to the registrar’s office. So where do you derive your power from?

We have political power because we are functioning at the behest of the chief minister who is interested in helping citizens. You could say we derive our power from him. Because of him we get support and cooperation from the administration. Our entire approach is to help citizens and facilitate the resolution of their issues with the registrar. We act like a go-between or liaison body between citizens and the government/registrar’s office.

Why doesn't the CM not ask the registrar’s office to get their act together and streamline their functioning or take action against erring officers?

Unfortunately the cooperation portfolio is not with the CM. Dilip Valse Patil is the minister concerned. He has to act.

Please tell us about the nature of your work.

Since there are technical gaps, delay in justice and heavy workload at the registrar’s office, our cell helps to set up meetings between affected citizens/complainants and the deputy registrars to help resolve and expedite the issues so that justice is done and matters are not pending indefinitely. Otherwise members have to go through the usual "tarikh pe tarikh" rigmarole.

We act as mediators and facilitators. The cell has already resolved several complaints, including cases of corruption. Recently we helped a complainant file an FIR with the Dahisar police against an erring administrator who has now been arrested for a corruption. Similarly we also educate society members and managing committees about society laws, new amendments in the society Act, self-redevelopment of housing societies, resolve differences between members and managing committees, help members access documentation from their respective society comittees etc.

What kind of complaints do you receive?

A lot of cases of harassment of senior citizens and single women by the Societies etc. Citizens also come with Occupation Certificate issues, conveyance issues, plot registration disputes, profit and loss balance sheets of societies, non-cooperation from managing committees… the entire tranche!

Given the number of housing societies in Mumbai and in the whole of Maharashtra the workload must be enormous. Do you have adequate manpower and infrastructure?

Yes. There are over 1.25 lac housing societies in Maharashtra and about 45,000 in Mumbai alone. We are now setting up city wise teams in Pune, Navi Mumbai, Raigad, Thane, Mira Road, Kalyan and Palgar. Staff is being recruited so that we have a definite structure in place including district coordinators, constituency heads and even big building complex heads and corodinators.

How can citizens approach you?

They can contact me anytime on 7506025666…I am always available. Also I personally meet aggrieved citizens on alternate days at Balasaheb Bhavan, opposite Mantralaya or in Thane.

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