Clean-up marshals extract money on the pretext of fining people who litter at public places.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s initiative to appoint clean-up marshals to prevent pedestrians from littering the streets has drawn flak from Mumbaikars. There have been reports about marshals harassing citizens and asking them to pay hefty fines. Offenders have to pay a fine of Rs 1000 for erecting illegal banners, Rs 200 for spitting, Rs 200 for littering and Rs 200 for peeing in public places. Even though the civic body has fixed these rates but marshals continue to overcharge citizens. People have also complained that marshals are misbehaving with them. Four people have already been suspended for indulging in corruption activities and a case has been registered against them.
Clean-up marshal AnilKumar Viswakarma had caught a rickshaw driver for peeing near the junction of Akurli road and Western Express Highway, Kandivali (E). He then collected a fine of Rs 100 and failed to issue him a receipt. Our photographer had clicked Anil’s photo who threatened him to delete the photos or face dire consequences. Anil also abused our photographer. When our photographer asked Anil to furnish his identity card and produce receipt he refused. He then asked photographer to accompany him to Samata Nagar police station. Later Anil called his senior official from BMC. The official arrived at the police station and inquired with our photographer who narrated about the entire incident to him. After knowing the truth he said that Anil’s contract will be terminated.
Damaji Harale, Sub Inspector of Samata Nagar Police station said, “If somebody files a complaint about extortion then we will register a case against them after conducting a probe.”
Earlier clean-up marshals had targeted the builder lobby and extracted huge amount from them. They had targeted drivers transporting constructing materials and used to demand money from them. Marshals had even harassed doctors and had imposed fine on them by questioning about the manner in which they dispose bio-medical waste. This time they are visiting shops and asking shopkeepers whether they possess licence for erecting signboards. However they don’t have any right to question shopkeepers about signboards as it’s the function of BMC officials.
The scheme which was started by BMC in 2007 has been discontinued twice in 2011 and 2014 amid complaints of corruption and highhandedness by marshals.
Hitesh Shah a businessman from Kandivali said, “Clean-up marshals are overstepping their authority hence the BMC must take strict action against them. They should allow us to run our business.”
Naveen Seth a Borivali resident said, “Marshals are only bringing disrepute to the BMC which had taken a right step to maintain cleanliness in the city. Their only intention is to earn quick bucks by overcharging people. Most of them don’t even issue receipts to offenders.”