mid-day editorial: Don't sweep this scam under the carpet

mid-day’s exposé and series of follow-ups about the recruitment scam in the BMC, where hundreds of people usurped jobs rightfully meant for the kin of dead or retired staffers by paying hefty bribes, raises several disturbing questions.

First, the facts: With the arrest of five people so far, the Crime Branch has found that BMC employees were in connivance with the scamsters. This is also clear from the fact that the real beneficiaries were made to run from pillar to post. When these victims approached higher-ups, the recruiting agents were quick to threaten them with death.

The higher-ups also ignored the basic checks. For instance, the mandatory no-objection certificates were forged, curiously, in the name of police stations that do not exist (like Mazgaon police station.) But no red flags went up. No one from the BMC bothered to verify whether the fresh recruits are the actual kin of deceased employees.

All these facts raise the questions: If scamsters do not even spare a sweeper’s job, how deep is the rot in the system? And more importantly, if hundreds of fake employees have been merely signing the muster and doing no work, as our report showed, is it any wonder that our streets are so dirty?

First, the BMC needs to realise that these sweepers are the most important cog in the efforts to keep the city clean. Recruitment, and their daily work, needs to be regulated and monitored carefully. Second, the civic body should maintain a centralised database of all its employees so that in case of their deaths, any help or subsidy reaches the right beneficiary.

Finally, this is not an isolated case where fraudsters have used the dead to fatten their pockets. There are several cases pending with the Collector’s office in which fraudsters had forged documents to usurp the property of the dead. Worse, following the deluge of 2005, many people posed next to the dead merely to claim compensation.

Only if the government takes strong action in such cases will the scamsters realise playing with the dead is no joke.

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