Mumbai municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte is registered as a hawker

Written By Unknown on Senin, 28 Juli 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Mumbai municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte has been registered as a hawker seeking a licence in the latest twist in the tussle between the BMC and its critics over the ongoing hawker registration drive. To show that the BMC drive has its drawbacks, a group of Dadar residents got a small, three-by-five-foot stall on busy Ranade Road registered under Kunte's name on Saturday.

While Kunte was unavailable for comment, civic officials have promised a probe. "I have ordered a probe into the whole incident," said Anand Wagralkar, deputy municipal commissioner in-charge of the hawker survey. "I have asked the ward to submit a detailed report on how a registration was done in the municipal commissioner's name. It looks like there was carelessness on the part of the BMC survey staff. After examining the report, we will take stern action against those responsible for this. It is shocking that such a registration was done. The police have also been apprised."

With a Supreme Court formula dictating that Mumbai can have as many as 3 lakh hawkers, the BMC has been registering those seeking hawker licences in a bid to implement the hawking policy. By Saturday night, BMC licence department records for G-North Ward showed Sitaram Kunte as seeking a hawker's licence.

"We have been complaining to the BMC that the entire registration drive has become a farce," said Dadar resident Swapnil Karbhari. "Hundreds of illegal hawkers have suddenly mushroomed in Dadar alone. Instead of evicting them, the BMC is getting them registered in their survey. So we got Kunte registered too." The form given to Karbhari says that Kunte has been called for scrutiny of documents and submitting the completed application on August 4 from 11 am to 1 pm.

"The BMC staffers conducting the survey did not bother to ask for any details or identity proof. They just asked me to pose with a slate that had details of my stall and its location. They gave me a form and an acknowledgement slip. I wrote my name as Sitaram Kunte in their register, but they did not ask for any proof. They were only interested in collecting the Rs 100 for the form and left the spot," Karbhari said.

BMC headquarters

The form has been signed by S V Kamble, an official with the licence department. Corporators from across party lines have slammed the BMC's hawker registration drive calling it arbitrary and bogus. MNS workers, led by Shivaji Park corporator Sandeep Deshpande, on Friday set up hawking stalls outside Kunte's official bungalow at Carmichael Road to protest against the registration drive. The MNS alleges that many people whose main source of income is not hawking are taking advantage of the registration drive. "I received several complaints of fake hawkers from local residents. They told me that people from as far away as Thane and Kalyan had come to set up stalls at Shivaji Park," Deshpande said. "So we decided to actually see how bogus the BMC survey was. The residents managed to get Kunte registered as a hawker in no time. At least now the BMC must scrap the survey and call for a discussion on the issue. The entire registration drive must be made transparent. People should be taken into confidence."

Deshpande added that with a goahead from party chief Raj Thackeray, the MNS would take to the streets in protest against the BMC's "bogus" hawker survey. Meanwhile, G-North officials are crying foul. "We have filed a complaint with the Shivaji Park police for missing registration forms," said Sharad Ughade, assistant municipal commissioner, G-North.

"Some people tried to forcefully register themselves as hawkers. This looks like an attempt to sabotage the survey. There might have been some errors in the initial survey, but all the bogus applications will be weeded out in the scrutiny. We have chalked out a very strict scrutiny process."

Another G-North official said, "We don't know how Sitaram Kunte was registered as a hawker. We will inquire into the matter and find out who has done this mischief. If our staffers are at fault, we will take strict action against them."

The residents alleged that the BMC filed the complaint about the forms late on Saturday night after realizing its staffers had goofed up by registering Kunte. They said the BMC had filed a false police complaint. "A probe will reveal how bogus the survey is. The BMC is just making false allegations against us because we exposed them," Karbhari said.

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