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BMC’s legal cell spurred into action

Saturday, April 09, 2011

India’s richest civic body, the BMC, is also turning out to be her most controversial as its legal cell tries to get its act in shape, says Gajanan Khergamker

The High Court’s more recent surge of observations has reportedly made the civic legal cell sit up and verbally communicate to its staff to remain alert with its paperwork for court cases and ensure everything is in place and concerned officials present for each and every hearing.

The legal cell bogged down with more than 30,000 litigations involving civic matters that include encroachment, illegal construction and nuisance is overburdened. The BMC has found itself in the news for wrong reasons over the years and despite demands for an overhaul, not much has been done.
It needs to clear a backlog of 1,40,000 cases and the numbers only pile up while several posts lie vacant and the department is plagued with lack of manpower and space to house staff.

Whether it’s about permitting a top floor to be constructed at a Juhu building to its failure in dealing with issue of tenants, the BMC is in the eye of the storm.

Why, a bench of judges even threatened to send illegal hawkers to the bungalows of the civic chief and mayor so that BMC bosses know what the public puts up with.

The High Court also rapped the BMC for treating Mumbaikars like ‘animals’ and denying them ‘fundamental right’ by supplying contaminated water when obtaining clean, potable water was their right.

If contaminated water is provided with the knowledge that it could kill someone, then it is culpable homicide had said Bombay High Court judges adding, “We don’t want another Bhopal-like situation to take place. There it was the air and here it is in the water.’’ The judges spewed that it is “high time that whoever is guilty is behind bars nd does not move freely.”

Being deprived of clean, potable water is an infringement of a fundamental right to life. The Bombay High Court was pulling up the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for delaying filing an FIR after two pregnant women died in April 2010 after consuming contaminated water at Worli.

The court told the civic body that health and hygiene of citizens should be its first priority while hearing a PIL filed by Siddharth Khandagale and Rajnish Kamble stating that Vrushali Pawar, 26 and Kavita Aitala, 23, residents of a slum on E Moses Road died due to waterborne disease.

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