BMC officials took bribe for issuing hawker licences: Union

Laxman Singh
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The union has also lodged a complaint with Superintendent of Licence Sharad Bande, seeking a probe. (File)

ALLEGING CORRUPT practices during the process of approving hawkers’ names in Ghatkopar, the hawkers’ union of the area has demanded an inquiry against officials of the licence department of the BMC. The union claimed that officials had deleted 242 names, citing documentation issues; however, these were later approved by the Zone VI (Ghatkopar, Bhandup, Mulund) Town Vending Committee (TVC).

The union has also lodged a complaint with Superintendent of Licence Sharad Bande, seeking a probe. Syed Haider Imam, general secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) Hawkers’ Union, alleged that civic officials in the licence department, who are also members of the zonal TVC, have accepted bribes to approve names of the hawkers who were earlier declared ineligible.

“In June, the license department officials presented a list of 876 eligible hawkers from N Ward (Ghatkopar). The list was approved by the TVC. However, at a TVC meeting in July, the officers tabled a fresh list of 638 eligible hawkers. Union members opposed this and pointed out to the TVC chairman, Deputy Municipal Commissioner Ranjeet Dhakne. After this, officials from the licence department claimed that 242 names were deleted after verifying the documents of these hawkers again,” said Haider.

He added, “The chairman had directed the officials to present a list of deleted names with reasons at the next meeting. But the officials went ahead and published the list of 638 hawkers on the BMC website as an approved list.”

Later, on February 11, at a monthly meeting of the zonal TVC, license inspectors told the committee that they had approved 310 new hawkers but did not provide the names. But the list of names was provided last week to committee members.

“The deleted names were declared as eligible on the basis of the same set of documents for which they had been disqualified,” Haider said.

Another member of Zone VI TVC, Fatima Anis Shaikh, said, “First they approved their names and then they deleted them. How can there be an error in such a large-scale survey? The BMC has also diluted the criteria for eligibility,” said Fatima, who is also a member of Azad Hawkers’ Union.

Bande said he had received a complaint from hawkers on the issue. However, he said he did not know much about it since the decision was made in the zonal TVC.

“The committee chairman will know the situation better,” Bande said. However, the zonal DMC Devendra Jain has retired and the post is vacant since.