2008 - 2009
Erstwhile constituents of NAGAR now amalgamated:
Clean Air (CA); CitiSpace (CS); Clean Sweep Forum (CSF)
- The GOM finally issued a GR (Government Regulation) on its policy on Street Vendors for Maharashtra.
- CS extended its Contempt petition in the Supreme Court (on cooking of food on the streets of Mumbai) to cover the total inaction by the State Government, the MCGM and the Police Commissioner in the implementation of the Supreme Court Order of 2003.
- The formation of CS Sub Committee on the hawker matter worked well. It continued to interact both with the MCGM and the citizens in this matter.
Recreation Grounds, Playgrounds, Parks & Gardens:
Stay on Caretaker Policy
- The Stay order got by CS on 31.07.2002 still survives which states there can be no SRA Scheme on Reserved Open Spaces in Greater Mumbai.
- However several Notices of Motion by individual developers and the SRA had come up in court from time to time which the CS lawyers deftly defended.
- The Advocate General (AG) of Maharashtra contacted the CS lawyers wanting to meet them and CS with what he called a “win-win” formula for both petitioners and respondents. Advised by our lawyers we agreed to meet with an open mind and without prejudice to our case.
- What was proposed was a formula that was quite unacceptable and CS rejected it outright. CS gave them a counter suggestion that would help the city get back its open spaces. That this should not be a blanket order that would lead to the Stay order being modified as the AG had suggested, but strictly on a case by case basis and in a way that would not set any precedent. That CS would be facilitated by the SRA to visit the concerned site for a physical verification was also accepted.
- The first such case that was heard by the High Court worked out successfully for CS and therefore the city was one where 100 % of the PG concerned would be given over to the MCGM and all the conditions laid down by CS and accepted by the SRA were sanctified by the Bombay High Court.
- CS believed that this court order would send a strong signal to developers and the SRA that if they are reasonable and design slum rehabilitation schemes and the free sale components in a manner that will return all the open spaces as designated in the DP to the city they will be on the right side of the law will be able to develop.
Public Notifications (PNs)
- As a result of CS’s objections to the Caretaker policy aimed at privatization of public spaces in Greater Mumbai, and bringing the controversial policy to the public domain by public hearings, press conferences, public debates and lobbying with the Politicians, and especially through the publishing of open letter of appeal by CS on September 14 2007 published in Hindustan Times, to appeal to the CM, drafted by CS and CA and signed by prominent citizens, namely, Justice B. N. Srikrishna (Retd.), Justice S. Variava (Retd.), Mr. Sharad Kale, Mr. D. M. Sukthankar, Mr. Satish Sahney, Mr. Julio Rebeiro, Mr. Cyrus Guzder, Mr. Nasser Munjee, Mr. Gerson Da Cunha, Mrs. Sheilu Srinivasan, Mr. Debi Goenka, Mrs. Shirin Bharucha, Mr. Shailesh Gandhi, Mrs. Nayana Kathpalia, Mrs. Neera Punj and Mrs. Meher Rafaat. Post the publication of this letter the CM stayed the Caretaker Policy.
- This has in turn resulted in making the MCGM take responsibility for the reserved open spaces of Greater Mumbai. It indicates the success of CS’s struggles to reverse the process of giving reserved open spaces for private development under the Caretaker Policy, which have been successful. This can be seen in the present stance of the MCGM, where it has taken on the whole and sole responsibility to look after these spaces, to the extent of not processing any new adoptions.
- On finding out that each ward was allocated Rs. 5 crore to develop and maintain the reserved open spaces in their ward, CS systematically met the AMCs along with local stakeholders. Reserved Open Space sites in different wards were visited and the layout/maintenance/development plans for these, which were prepared by the MCGM’s engineers, architects and horticulture assistants, were scrutinized and reviewed. Environment-friendly and sound inputs as will protect these public grounds from misuse and result in the judicious use of the allocated funds were made.
2008 saw a spate of PNs issued frequently and most of them were fairly complex and quite unintelligible to a normal citizen. Hence, to change the complicated regulations of MRTP, DCR, etc. CS formed a Sub Committee comprising of architects, planners, lawyers and citizens with vast experience as it believes it is very important to respond intelligently to all such notifications.
- CA was approached by the lawyer – Mr. Shiraz Rustomji to connect with various automobile manufacturers and get details of their offers in terms of specifications, cost and availability. It seemed that financial loans were another major issue, as no bank or institution considered the taxi – owners loan-worthy.
- A further problem arose regarding warranties. The vehicle itself carried the normal manufacturer’s warranty, but the conversion kits for CNG were not covered. In addition, these kits had to be fitted after delivery of the vehicle and completely under the responsibility of the taxi owner. It was understandable that all this added up to a heavy onus on the taxi owners who would be spending a hefty amount on new vehicles.
- CA spoke to Maruti and Tata Motors and over a period of time the latter came up with a workable deal for the taxi owners. Their final offer was:
- To tie up loans for the taxi owners with their sister concern Tata Finance.
- To identify agencies to carry out the CNG refittment and have the warranty run concurrently with that of the vehicle.
- To agree to send an official letter, guaranteeing to supply the number of vehicles required, at any given time, under the court orders.
This was produced by Mr. Rustomji in court and the phase out could begin.
- The traffic restraint scheme recommended by the V. M. Lal Committe/e was heard by the High Court and the bench directed the State to select one area to implement it on a trial basis.
- On June 5, 2008 (World Environment Day), Mumbai's first program on "E-waste Awareness” was organized by CSF at the Bombay Natural History Society. This was supported by ‘Ecoreco', a concern which is currently the only recycler of e - waste in the formal sector in Mumbai. The event was chaired by the Hon. Sheriff of Mumbai and attended by the Secy., Ministry of Environment, Mumbai’s Municipal Commissioner, Member Secy., MPCB, and the Consular Generals of Switzerland, Germany and France, all of whom addressed the gathering.
- On September 15, 2008, a second programme on "E-waste Awareness' was held at the Indian Merchants Chamber (IMC).
- On January 31, 2009, a Panel discussion was organized by CSF at Indian Merchants’ Chamber; the invitees included Director (Industries), Government of Maharashtra; Member Secretary, State Pollution Control Board; Director, All India Institute of Local Self Government; prominent citizens of the city, Recyclers and NGOs. After prolonged discussions, it was unanimously agreed that an Association be formed for evolving a workable and sustainable system of e-waste management in Mumbai. Mr. Vijay Mukhi, Chairman of the I. T. Committee of IMC, offered to support the proposal and it was agreed that a core committee be formed.
- Members of the core committee met on February 12, 2009 and it was agreed that this Association be named as 'Maharashtra E - Waste Association' (MEWA). Since then, a number of Industry Associations, Companies, and NGOs have agreed to join as members. These include IMC, Manufacturers Association of Information Technology (MAlT), Zenith Computers, ONIDA, three Companies of Recyclers, Toxics Link and YUVA Pratisthan and CSF. FICCI and NASSCOM may become special invitees.
CSF pledged to support Mahindra and Mahindra’s film called ‘Mumbai Chakachak’ which aimed at giving the much needed impetus to the ‘Clean-up Mumbai’ campaign of MCGM.