Activist Raj Kumar Sharma, president of the Diamond Garden Residents’ Forum in Chembur, said, "If these cleanup marshals really made a difference to the city then Mumbai's rank in the Swachh Sarvekshan 2017 would not have dropped from 10 last year to 29 this year." Sharma’s grouse is that BMC has not made adequate arrangements to dispose of garbage. "While travelling anywhere in Mumbai one would realise that there aren’t enough dustbins everywhere, owing to which people end up littering the streets," Sharma said.
Khar activist Anandini Thakoor said she too is yet to notice a visible change in cleanliness levels in the city. "The marshals are more keen on penalising people and meeting targets," said Thakoor.
Indeed, clean-up marshals are given a minimum target of five penalties a day and get pa- id in addition based on the fines they collect.
However, many marshals say theirs is a challenging job. "Nobody likes to be penalised. Try talking to a person you do not know and tell them they need to pay a penalty. They start behaving rudely," said a marshal outside Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj museum in south Mumbai. Most people who get penalised in the area are tourists, he added.
Amit Singh, another marshal stationed outside CST station, said the most common offence is throwing cigarette stubs on the road. “Sometimes, they create a scene and this attracts the attention of other passers-by. Once a crowd gathers they even try to intimidate us," said Singh.
TOI spoke to a person whom a marshal had fined for throwing a stub outside Dadar railway station. He said being fined was a deterrent and he would look for a bin the next time. "It's difficult to go and search for a bin all the time but then one can't keep paying fines," he said.
Dadar-based activist Ashok Ravat said the scheme has not made a marked difference except swelling BMC’s coffers. "Ideally these marshals should be given a target to ensure that a particular lane, area or locality remains clean through patrolling instead of being asked to penalise a certain num- ber of persons," he said .
But senior officials in the BMC chose to differ. They said the scheme has definitely increased awareness. "We have noticed an improvement in people's habits since the scheme was started last year. We are also posting these marshals near nullahs and open defecation spots to keep those places clean. However, the job is not complete and we are making more efforts to keep the city clean," said Vijay Balamwar, deputy municipal commissioner-solid waste management. The contract of the clean-up marshals was to end in June, but it’s learnt that the BMC has extended it for one more year.
Source: The Times of India (Mumbai edition)