A political demand to nominate two separate municipal commissioners for town and suburbs within the Brihanmumbai Municipal Company (BMC) and the proposed bifurcation of Mumbai’s largest administrative ward — the primary such division within the final 20 years — have put the main focus again on the challenges earlier than the nation’s largest municipal company to offer civic providers effectively in India’s largest metropolis.
In accordance with the BMC information, the inhabitants of Mumbai was 1.28 crore (12.eight million) by mid-2020. It’s contained in an space of 483.14 sq. km, making Mumbai one of many densest cities with 26,500 individuals per sq. km (excluding the world marked off as “no improvement zone”).
The island metropolis has the best density of 44,170 individuals per sq. km. It’s 24,500 sq. km within the western suburbs (Bandra to Dahisar) and 22,110 sq. km within the japanese (Kurla to Mankhurd and Mulund) suburbs.
Simply to provide a way of how massive Mumbai has (when it comes to inhabitants) grown, it’s larger than Sweden (1 crore) and Denmark (58.1 lakh). Throughout the nation, not less than 10 Indian states, together with Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh are smaller than the BMC.
Historical past of administrative bifurcation
The BMC, which was fashioned as a “city council”, had its first-ever assembly in September 1873. Having a historical past of over 145 years, the BMC has grown administratively with town’s growth to the north. At present, there are 24 administrative wards by means of which the municipality is coping with civic points within the island metropolis (Colaba to Mahim and Sion) and suburbs.
In accordance with the e book, Municipal Company of Higher Mumbai (MCGM) and Ward Administration, written by retired Deputy Municipal Commissioner Dr David Anthony Pinto and Dr Marina Rita Pinto in 2008, after the company’s formation in 1950, suburbs from Bandra to Andheri and Sion to Ghatkopar, and in 1956 the remaining portion of Andheri to Dahisar and Ghatkopar to Mulund had been merged within the municipal company.
Later, as a way to present higher amenities to the rising inhabitants, six divisional wards had been additional divided into 21 administrative wards beneath the regional decentralisation course of in 1964. The final bifurcation of administrative wards was achieved in early 2000, taking the full wards as much as 24. The e book additionally mentions that in 2007-08, the BMC had 1.15 lakh staff, offering civic providers to 1.2 crore inhabitants. Aside from a rise in administrative wards, the variety of directors have additionally elevated regularly from one IAS officer to 5 now dealing with the company.
There are specific wards which have a inhabitants of greater than 9 lakh and big land areas the place it’s a problem to offer civic amenities. For instance, P-north ward (Malad) alone has a complete inhabitants of 9.67 lakh and 17 corporators following L ward (Kurla) with 9.26 lakh and 15 corporators. There are 227 corporator electoral wards in 24 administrative wards.
Prior to now a number of years, civic officers have been vocal about re-organisation as they’ve been tasked with different duties together with their core division position. In latest cases, civic officers have cited work stress earlier than the Bombay Excessive Court docket.
In December 2020, the court docket imposed a tremendous of Rs 1 lakh on Assistant Municipal Commissioner of C ward (Chandanwadi) Chakrapani Alle over contempt of court docket for not giving a correct listening to to a restaurant proprietor from Dhobi Talao and ordering the demolition of his construction regardless of the court docket saying that the proprietor ought to be given a listening to earlier than motion.
Defending the BMC, senior advocate Anil Sakhare, had mentioned it was a bonafide mistake by Alle attributable to work stress as he was managing 17 inner departments and an extra cost of B ward.
Equally, in one other case of motion towards unlawful development by Deputy Municipal Commissioner (DMC) of zone 2, Vijay Balamwar, the BMC had mentioned the civic workers is overworked.
At present, many high civic officers are holding further fees for different departments together with theirs. With about 27 per cent vacancies, the nation’s richest municipal company is already dealing with a workers crunch, and staff usually complain about being overworked. In accordance with the BMC figures, there are practically 37,800 vacant posts throughout civic departments. The civic physique has 1.43 lakh sanctioned (standing until June 2019) posts for technical, and administrative officers and sanitation staff, of which 1.05 lakh are stuffed.
BMC’s plans of re-organising wards
In 2017, then municipal commissioner and present principal advisor to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Ajoy Mehta had proposed re-organisation of administrative wards, being attentive to issue in dealing with massive wards by just one administrator (assistant municipal commissioner) throughout elections and on common days with providers.
In accordance with Mehta’s proposal, all 24 ward boundaries could be redrawn to convey parity within the variety of electoral wards. In Island Metropolis, administrative ward B (Dongari) and C (Chandanwadi) could be merged into E ward (Byculla) and D ward (Malabar Hill) respectively.
Each B and C wards have solely two and three electoral wards respectively. Equally in western suburbs, P-north (Malad) can be divided into two–P-east and P-west wards. Within the japanese suburb, L-ward can be divided into L-south and L-north. Nevertheless, the re-organisation is but to happen.
Metropolis city planners mentioned that the main focus ought to be extra on guaranteeing service deliveries and small administrative models will really be useful on this regard.
“In different international locations, planning models are as small as 1,000 households which is useful in managing providers. Mumbai metropolis is sort of unwieldy and enormous. For higher service supply, now we have to determine areas the place it isn’t occurring as an alternative of speaking about dividing wards and asking IAS officers to sit down in suburbs. For instance, if there are 60 college students and one instructor, then every pupil is not going to get the eye that they deserve, however for 20 college students, it’s potential. The identical factor is with governance the place if you happen to can convey a small denominator then will probably be good for service supply,” mentioned Principal Director, City Centre Mumbai, Pankaj Joshi.
He added: “The main focus ought to be to make sure a mechanism for service supply to the final individual. It may be achieved by one commissioner additionally solely with an organised construction.”
In 2017, former Congress minister and legislator Arif Naseem Khan had raised the difficulty of dividing the BMC into three municipal companies – Island Metropolis, Western Suburbs and Jap Suburbs – for efficient functioning, on the strains of three municipal companies in Delhi.
Khan had raised the demand following a fireplace in a store in Sakinaka in suburban Mumbai that claimed 12 lives. “The town’s inhabitants has elevated quite a bit. The suburbs have the best inhabitants density in comparison with the island metropolis. As a result of scarcity of officers, the civic physique shouldn’t be capable of present providers successfully to the residents in suburbs,” mentioned Khan.
“It’s not about dividing Mumbai however the division of the BMC’s administrative work is required to supply higher civic providers to individuals. It may be achieved by having two separate commissioners for metropolis and suburbs on the strains of the 2 districts collectors in Mumbai,” he added. Nevertheless, Khan’s demand was opposed by the BJP and the Shiv Sena within the state legislature. The events alleged that the division could be an insult to the a whole lot of martyrs who fought for Mumbai.
Mayor in council in BMC
Following the BMC elections in April 2017, then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had fashioned a three-member committee to recommend methods to herald transparency, effectivity and accountability within the civic physique and different municipal companies within the state. The committee submitted its report in 2018 and had recommended adopting a straight elected mayor system on the road of the US presidential elections. The committee had additionally really useful vesting the mayor with all decision-making powers. Nevertheless, even after three years, no determination has been taken. The committee was composed of former BMC Municipal Commissioner Sharad Kale, former Housing Secretary Gautam Chatterjee and former Pune Municipal Commissioner Ramanath Jha.
A retired bureaucrat, who had held key posts in Mumbai and Pune, on the situation of anonymity mentioned the mayor ought to be straight elected and given extra powers with accountability.
“Our cities are in a state of struggle. As a result of if in case you have an enormous inhabitants coming in and day by day points to be resolved then the decision-making course of in such an organisation should be very fast. However within the present system of the municipal companies, you have got a really massive consultative course of. By the point the choice is taken, the state of affairs modifications. To strengthen the organisation’s decision-making course of, now we have to guarantee that the chief govt officer ought to be very highly effective,” he mentioned. He added: “Additionally, now we have to make sure that there’s a mechanism of transparency and accountability that helps you run the system correctly.” The previous bureaucrat can be of the opinion that decentralisation is a viable choice on the wards stage to make sure higher providers and fast choices.
“It ought to be examined if on the ward stage extra decentralized is required. The splitting of huge wards which have populations of a municipal company is a good suggestion,” he mentioned.
Prior to now, Mayor Kishori Pednekar has been vocal about extra powers for mayors and had written to Thackeray on the difficulty.
Politics on BMC
The demand for the BMC’s division at all times attracts robust political reactions from the Shiv Sena which has been benefitted from the difficulty for many years.
In 1985, then Chief Minister Vasandada Patil had made a press release, making a suspicion that the Centre was planning to convey Mumbai beneath its administration and thus separating it from Maharashtra. The Sena picked up the difficulty as its weapon for the BMC polls and emerged as the only largest occasion nearing the bulk mark within the election. Since then, the Sena has been raking up fears of separation of Mumbai from Maharashtra, an emotive subject within the state’s rural components, repeatedly.
Not too long ago, Congress chief and Fisheries Minister Aslam Shaikh stoked an argument by demanding two municipal commissioners within the BMC and justified it on the bottom that it will be simpler for the civic physique to offer primary facilities to the individuals in Suburban Mumbai. Nevertheless, the demand was rejected by the Congress, stating that it was his private view and never the occasion view. Subsequently, Shaikh and the BJP corporators have demanded that the extra municipal commissioners of IAS officer stage ought to sit of their respective zones – Western and Jap Suburbs- for higher redressal of civic points.
Sena sources mentioned Shaikh’s demand for 2 commissioners was a results of a fallout between him and the municipal commissioner over some points within the civic physique. Nevertheless, the BJP instantly accused the Congress of conspiring to divide Mumbai.
Shiv Sena leaders mentioned there is no such thing as a change of their stand of not permitting Mumbai’s separation from Maharashtra. “There isn’t any change in our stand,” mentioned Transport Minister and Shiv Sena chief Anil Parab. He added that because the Congress has already clarified that it isn’t a celebration demand, it’s now not a difficulty.
“The BJP, which is determined for energy, is raking up the problems today to take pleasure in energy in every single place, together with chawls and native resident committees,” he alleged.
A senior Shiv Sena chief mentioned the feasibility of the demand of asking further municipal commissioners to sit down of their respective zones must be studied.
“If it helps the administration, we must see its feasibility as all of the senior civic officers sit within the headquarters in South Mumbai the place all choices are taken,” mentioned the chief. Even when no motion is taken on dividing the BMC into three municipal companies, interact two commissioners or on different calls for, it’s prone to change into a difficulty within the upcoming BMC elections to be held early 2022.