Even as bureaucrats and police officers get plots in prime locations, a recent United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) report said 60% of Mumbai’s population occupies just six per cent of the land.
“In such a scenario, isn’t it criminal to keep allotting land meant for the homeless to a few policemen and babus?” said Medha Patkar, activist and convenor of the National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), which blew the lid off the Adarsh scam.
What is wrong with the policy to allot plots to bureaucrats and policemen?
When 60% of the population occupies just six per cent of the land, bureaucrats and police officers floating societies and making palatial houses is putting on display a vulgar disparity. Whichever society these officials float gets permissions quickly and is able to subvert laws.
Despite repeated complaints by activists, including NAPM, there is no credible action against any bureaucrat or policeman.
Bureaucrats and police officers have come to wield a lot of power, which they misuse. Land allotments by the City and Industrial Development Corporation are a case in point. Most times, it’s the bureaucrat who clears himself of the crime he’s accused of. The situation is such that netas have come to be afraid of babus.
What changes do you propose in the allotment policy?
For starters, there must be a cap on the number of houses allotted. Several officials have multiple houses in the city. Secondly, there must be a ceiling on the carpet area of houses meant for officials. In a city like ours, which faces an acute space shortage, officials must take the lead in showing austerity.
What long-term measures can help?
People have to start realising that most agencies we relied on for justice aren’t functioning the way they should be. Hence, we need more citizens as watchdogs.
Also, there must be a network of anti-corruption agencies, which deal with prevention and investigation into officials’ land dealings.