Mumbai: Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam today alleged that Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials and leaders of Shiv Sena-BJP, ruling the city civic body, were hand in glove in extorting money from city hawkers.

Addressing a press conference, Nirupam said as per a survey by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), there is illegal recovery of Rs 300 to Rs 400 crore from hawkers in Mumbai every month.

"High ranking officials and Sena-BJP leaders are also involved and this is the reason why BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta is not implementing the Hawkers' Regulation and Protection Act passed by the UPA government in 2014," Nirupam alleged.

"I had filed a PIL in Bombay High Court in this matter, to which, the court ruled on August 12 that there should be no action against hawkers if the process of providing them licences has not completed," Nirupam said
adding that the court has directed to set up a special committee for survey of hawkers and providing them licences.

When contacted, BMC officials were unavailable for comments.

As of now, about 23 lakh hawkers have been given licences to do business, Nirupam said adding that there are 2.5 lakh hawkers in the city. "Legally, about 3.5 lakh hawkers can be given licences," he said.

The Congress leader said he has written to Mehta and Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria saying that if court orders are violated, he would take legal action against the BMC chief.

Earlier, Nirupam chaired a meeting of Mumbai Congress to discuss the high electricity bills of Mumbaikars. He said the city unit would protest against the power companies from next month. However, senior leaders stayed away from the meeting.

Only two of the five sitting MLAs, Aslam Sheikh and Amin Patel and one former MP Eknath Gaikwad, attended the meeting.