Water-logging, unattended potholes and dangerous trees are not ‘long-term civic complaints’, according to the civic body’s disaster management cell.
Two weeks after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) launched its citizen-friendly SMS grievance facility, activist Nikhil Desai has been sending SMS complaints about unattended potholes in Matunga to 9833331916, the grievance number. On Monday, when the city witnessed its first spell of heavy showers, the entire area was flooded and branches of several trees fell, which were complaints he had SMSed to the civic body 10 days ago. However, not once did he get a specific complaint number, registering his message.
“Ever since the launch of this facility, I have sent around 15 text messages to the SMS helpline number, warning officials about dangerous trees, potholes and sewage strewn on the road. But, neither have I been assigned a complaint number nor have officials informed me if my complaint has been addressed,” he said. Despite launching the SMS grievance facility at the beginning of the monsoon, officials at the BMC’s disaster management cell handling the facility said it was meant to address only ‘long-term’ civic complaints.
“The SMS grievance facility is meant for complaints such as unauthorised encroachments and garbage disposal. People are supposed to register their monsoon-related queries only with the disaster 108 helpline,” said Mahesh Narvekar, chief officer, BMC disaster management cell. “There have been instances when the SMSes sent by citizens contained incomplete information, making the complaint void. Moreover, it is a time-consuming process as text messages have to be converted to emails and then sent to respective ward officers,” he said.
“All monsoon-related problems are ultimately civic problems. This year, the monsoon arrived later than usual,” said Surindra Khubchandani, a resident of Khar, which witnessed heavy flooding on Monday.