In fact, BMC’s Zone IV under which P-North ward falls doesn’t even have a full-time deputy municipal commissioner (DMC).
How many more lives will it cost for the government to realise that its housing policy has failed? The tragic building collapse in Malwani, which claimed mostly children, is a grim reminder of the acute shelter problem in this teeming metropolis. Over decades, successive state governments have been unable to create a large stock of affordable and rental homes for the working class.
The BJP has been demanding that BMC appoint a full-time ward officer but so far, the civic administration hasn’t done so. The earlier AMC Sanjog Kabre was promoted as DMC in February, and since then, AMC Santosh Dhonde of P-South ward has been holding charge for P-North ward too. Right now, DMC Bharat Marathe of Zone V is holding additional charge of Zone IV. So the ward neither has a full-time ward officer nor a full-time DMC.
“This is why illegal constructions are rampant. We have written several letters to municipal commissioner I S Chahal asking him to appoint a full-time ward officer, but to no avail. We even held dharnas outside his office. The BMC is responsible for this crash,” said BJP corporator Vinod Mishra.
Last year, the most populous ward was to be split into two, the urban development department had said. But no timeframe was specified. 70% of the 9.7 lakh population in the ward lives in slums. P-North has some of the city’s biggest slum pockets: Malwani in Malad (W) and Kurar village and Appa Pada in Malad (E).BMC chief I S Chahal told TOI, “We are short of five ward officers, so five wards do not have regular ward officers. The MPSC is in the process of recruitment.”