The civic body has so far failed to implement a vital court directive on sustaining action against political parties that put up illegal banners in Mumbai.
The Bombay high court had four months ago directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to set up a 24x7 toll-free helpline for anonymous complaints about illegal banners in the city. The BMC is still struggling to put the mechanism in place.
In its affidavit submitted nearly a month ago, the BMC had announced the launch of two new helplines – 1292 and 1293. However, the lines are yet to become operational.
The reason: top civic body officials are yet to take a decision on the operator of these new lines.
After the high court order, officials of the civic licence department received approval from the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) to run the helplines.
The municipal commissioner then approved the employment of operators in the disaster control room to receive complaints on these helpline numbers and process them further for action.
The licence department estimated that six officials – two operators on three shifts a day – will need to be appointed to manage the helplines. However, lack of staff became an issue.
“We have communicated to the licence department that we do not have the manpower to manage these two lines and also that the existing 1916 toll-free number cannot be diverted for this purpose,” said Mahesh Narvekar, chief officer of the disaster management cell.
According to sources, a joint meeting to take a decision on this matter was to be held between the additional municipal commissioner in-charge of licences, Vikas Kharage, Narvekar and deputy municipal commissioner (special), Rajendra Vale. But the meeting has not yet been scheduled. Kharage said the details on this issue are available with Vale.
“It has been decided that the numbers will be integrated with the existing complaint helpline setup of 1916. Yes, the new numbers are yet to be commissioned. I will look into the matter and sort it out,” said Vale.
Aftab Siddique, Bandra-based civic activist and a member of the citizen committee in H West ward appointed by the BMC to look into the issue of illegal banners, said: “Citizen facilitation has not remained a priority for the BMC. The bureaucracy is not willing to look into it. The police are still not registering cases against offenders”.