Aurangabad, Jan 14:
An air of disappointment is prevailing amongst merchants and ordinary citizens for the forcible collection of the fine amount by Nagarik Mitra Pathak (NMP), of Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), in the name of violations. The merchants' fraternity underlined that the squad collects Rs 5,000 each from shopkeepers claiming that he possesses plastic carry bags of less than 50 microns thickness, while Rs 500 each is collected from each citizen claiming that he is not wearing the face mask.
The harassment is done to enhance the daily collection of the fine amount in AMC's exchequer. This is the reason why civic administration is not paying heeds towards the mistakes of squad members. Presently, the collection of the fine amount is more than Rs 1 lakh.
The then municipal commissioner had appointed 66 ex-servicemen on a contract basis to prevent irresponsible citizens from throwing garbage on the road. He initiated to improve the city's ranking in Cleanliness Survey. Later on, the AMC authorities started utilising the services of the squad as per their targets.
During the lockdown period, the squad was authorised to collect fine against merchants for possessing carry bags of less than 50 microns, citizens for not using face masks, citizens spitting on the road or citizens throwing garbage on the road etc. For the past few days, it is alleged that the squad members are entering the petty shops in the market and claiming that they possess carry bags of less than 50 microns in thickness and impose a fine of Rs 5,000. They do not even hear their plea and evidence that carry bags in their possession are of more than 50 microns in thickness. Presently, the market is going through a recession. In this situation, the harassment by squad has become intolerable for small business people. The merchants underlined that these members threaten of filing criminal offence if the penalty is not paid to them on the spot. Under the pretext of checking, 8-10 members enter the shop as if they are raiding it. The members are also alleged of treating a shopkeeper like an accused. Moreover, AMC does not have any system to measure the thickness of banned plastic carry bags. Meanwhile, the newspaper received few complaints that the fine is being collected by the squad in a very notorious manner.
Targetting common citizens
The squad members are also alleged of harassing and forcibly collecting the fine amount from common citizens. The squad members are spotted at various crossroads and circles. It is being said that they target common citizens passing through. If any person's face mask slips just below the nose, the squad collects Rs 500 as a fine from him. If not he is threatened of action. The team collects fine between Rs 60,000 and Rs 70,000 daily from citizens claiming they are not wearing masks daily.
When contacted the head of Solid Waste Management (SWM) Cell, Nandkishore Bombe, he was not available to comment on the issue.