Mumbai, 24thJuly 2012: Beware Mumbai citizens! Think twice before complaining against illegal building activity to MCGM’s officers on their official email id and mobile numbers, or they may threaten to book you under cyber-crime laws! Also be careful if they invite you to meet them with your complaint on Lokshahi Din, because they may land you in trouble! Your efforts in bringing the illegal activities to the attention of the authorities may not be appreciated; far from it! After a tongue-lashing, you may well be scrambling to save your skin from the cybercrime police, for the cyber-crime of emailing a complaint!
On Monday 15th July, Deputy Municipal Commissioner Vijay Balamvar sent this message to citizens loud and clear in his office at his Lokshahi Din (which ironically means, “the day when the citizen is king”). Advocate Sunil Tiwari, who had waited patiently outside his office from 3.30 till 5.15, was asked why he had sent complaints and building photographs to his email id (DMC.firstname.lastname@example.org) and to his mobile phone (9820702619) on Whatsapp, was asked to produce documents to prove that he was actually an advocate! The DMC refused point-blank to even talk about Adv. Tiwari’s complaint about the illegal alteration (breaking the ground-floor slab to install a stairway) of a Juhu building by State Bank of India, photos attached) causing a danger of building collapse, and instead asked Tiwari what right he had to clog his official email and his mobile phone with complaints and photos of the building.
“Are you living in that building? How are you affected by the alterations being made? If you are not living in that building, what right have you to send me such messages? I want you to delete the email, the message you sent me from my mailbox and phone. Will you do that? Otherwise, I will complain to cyber-crime police, and look at what action to take against you under the cyber-laws,” he allegedly said. Adv Sunil Tiwari (9820702619) was shaken and indignant at the end of this unexpected turn of events, to say the least!
Sunil’s friend and mentor in activism, RTI Activist Sulaiman Bhimani (9323642081), who is an interior designer, remarks that this reveals the nexus between commercial interests who make illegal alternations in buildings, and BMC’s officers, who knowingly look the other way. “Memories of recent building collapses are fresh in the minds of Mumbaikar, especially those who lost their near and dear ones due to the greed of someone. Many of the buildings collapsed due to illegal and unauthorized structural changes made on ground floor. MCGM engineers fail to take cognizance of such activities and they turn nelson eyes to such rampant illegal changes the reasons best known to them. And it seems that citizens who complain against such corruption and malpractices are intimidated by Municipal officials, who should be protecting the citizens instead of protecting such unlawful elements! If Mr Balamvar does not take cognizance of Adv. Tiwari’s complaint on a serious matter concerning common people’s lives, and instead, can talk arrogantly like this to an advocate, imagine how he would be dealing with poor people who approach him with grievances and complaints! And, if their official phones and email addresses – which is paid for with taxpayer money -- cannot be used for sending complaints, what will the citizens do?” asks Bhimani.
Although the President, Prime Minister, Chief Minister and others are used to routinely receive complaints from irate citizens, one doubts that anybody has threatened citizens with action under cyber-crime laws! But evidently, this Deputy Municipal Commissioner wants to set a precedent and firmly show citizens their place!
Says Corporator Dilip Patel, BJP group leader in MCGM and member of MMRDA committee (was cc-ed in almost all the complaints that Sunil Tiwari sent to MCGM), “I phoned and asked Balamvar about this altercation with Adv. Sunil, whom I have met. Balamvar replied that he would explain everything to me personally, and so, I will be meeting him tomorrow. Let us see what he says.”
Meanwhile, Adv Tiwari has written to CM Prithviraj Chavan and others to suspend DMC Balamwar, Asst commissioner K/West ward and the concerned engineers, and to check their call records to reveal their nexus.
DOWNLOADS FOR MEDIA:
1) Adv Sunil Tiwari’s complaint against UNAUTHORIZED CIVIL WORK: http://tinyurl.com/complaint-
2) Publishable photo of SBI Juhu from outside: http://tinyurl.com/SBI-Juhu
3) Full text of Tiwari’s complaint against DMC Vijay Balamvar, sent by email & speedpost to CM, Municipal Commissioner etc: http://tinyurl.com/complaint-
Far from being cowed down, we urge the common man to register their complaints (and also their protest against such bad behavior by civic officials) on their email ids – official or otherwise – and also their mobile phones!