This monsoon, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation may find it tough to resolve complaints of waterlogging, flooding, tree collapse and short circuit. Reason: they are yet to get a separate toll-free number for disaster-related calls.
Despite more than two attempts in the past two years, the Central government’s department of telecommunication (DOT) is yet to take a call on the issue. In 2014, the state government took over the civic body’s toll-free disaster helpline number 108 for emergency medical services. Consequently, the civic body started using its civic complaint number 1916 for disaster management.
Using one helpline proves to be a problem for everyone. Those with complaints pertaining to water leakage, illegal encroachment, shortage of water supply and garbage collection can’t get through owing to disaster-related calls, and vice versa. Some call on 108, only to get connected to the emergency medical services in Pune.
Civic chief Ajoy Mehta, during his monsoon review meeting, wrote to the state for a separate number, but there has been no progress on the matter. “We need a helpline for complaints on landslide, building collapse and tree collapse,” said a senior civic official.
Another officer said, “After giving our number for medical services, we were told to apply for a new one, but our requests go unheeded.” Sources said the state is in talks with MTNL for a new number. However, confusion prevails as the MTNL will be able to provide four-digit number, instead of a three-digit one.