A Battle for Cleanliness

A Battle for Cleanliness

Mumbai’s civic body often ignores the very issues for which it exists. Amidst the strikes, financial deficit, corruption and other issues plaguing it, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation forgets to carry out its functions dutifully.

Take for instance, sanitation. Despite the highly paid civic workers of Mumbai, many of the metropolitan’s streets are filled with filth and garbage. The gutters overflow due to clogged sewage and many drains around the city have become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other harmful insects leading to potential health hazard for residents of the area. The city’s civic body is known to turn a blind eye to most of the complaints received in this respect.

It is for this very reason that our city requires people like Ronny A Williams, a social worker from Vikhroli. Here are two interesting cases where Mr. Williams had to literally fight a battle of sorts to make the BMC attend to the issues of basic public sanitation.

An open gutter running parallel to the St. Joseph Church and School was never cleaned by the BMC and the sewage mess had been accumulating since ages. Repeated complaints by the school authorities to the BMC in this regard did not yield any results as the concerned ward officers (S ward) refused to own responsibility claiming that the area does not come under their ward.

Mr. Williams took up the matter personally and brought Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Dr. More Patil (Zone-VI) to the site for inspection. The response was immediate and the concerned ward officers were directed to visit the site and supervise the removal of muck from the drain. Mr. Williams said, "The irony here is that after cleaning the drain the garbage removed was left at the edge of the drain, as the lifting of garbage is supposedly the responsibility of the conservancy department. Although the maintenance department de-silted the drains, the rains ensured that the garbage flows back into the drains only to clog it once again."

Mr. Williams was compelled to follow up on the issue once again. This time he explained to the civic officials the practical aspect of the problem, which arose because of the apparent "lack of coordination" between maintenance and the conservancy departments of BMC. "If the various departments of BMC work in synchronicity, a lot of its problems will disappear. Unfortunately, the officials always try to disown their responsibilities", says Mr. Williams.

The transmission nallahs at Haryiali village, Tagore nagar and Bharat Nagar in Vikhroli were also in an appalling state and once again, the de-silting work was organized and supervised by Mr. Williams himself.

But Mr. Williams is quick to point out, "The general public is also to be blamed for the sorry state of affairs. They should use the garbage dumps available to dispose of with their domestic waste, instead of throwing it in the drains."

Residents of Hema Park in Bhandup (East) faced a similar problem of clogging of drains. For almost a year, the drain running parallel to Hema Park was lying clogged, with mud covering most of the drain. As expected, the monsoons created havoc flooding the area and exposing the public to diseases. Mr. Williams actively pursued the matter and got the BMC to clean the drains. Although the BMC recently wrote to Mr. Williams informing him about the completion of de-silting work in Hema Park, Mr. Williams is not satisfied. "One drain is still left as it is. The BMC has sent the letter without inspecting the area."

But this is not all. From time to time Mr. Williams takes up many other issues related to basic civic amenities. For instance, he has, in the past, worked on removing of illegal constructions on footpaths and other structures creating a hurdle for public. Hawkers occupying pavements illegally is another issue taken up by Mr. Williams regularly. Corruption within the BMC and illegal commissioning of civic contracts are also addressed periodically.

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