For the employees of the ration card office in Borivli, going to work is an unsavoury adventure: snakes, mould, a building threatening to collapse over their heads, driving them outdoors to work from the street, crouched on the road.
The 20-odd ration officials earlier worked out of an old four-storey residential building in MHADA colony, Rajendra Nagar (18, 19, 20), which is in ruins. In June 2012, inhabitants of the building were asked to move out as the structure is on its last legs. Residents had earlier raised concerns about the ramshackle building constructed in the 80’s.
After their complaints, the ration office was also shifted to a nearby building. The new building Patrakar Sadan – a much smaller space - is a marginal improvement over the ruins they were earlier forced to work out of. And officials perhaps wouldn’t have minded working here if they did not still have to visit the old structure.
The employees, requesting anonymity, said they have to travel to their old dilapidated office every day to retrieve old documents that are still stored there, or even to go to the bathroom, as their new office doesn’t have one. Since the building can fall apart anytime, employees grab the papers they need, go out to the road, and squat on the ground, papers strewn allover, in order to work.
The building is extremely weak, the bricks have come off and huge fissures threaten to crack the walls open. Recently, the BMC stuck a notice on the building declaring it dangerous for habitation as it can collapse anytime.
The officials - 17 women and 3 men - work 9 to 5 shifts. They say they are scared to visit the old office, as there are snakes near the washroom area. When going to the loo, they say take a staff member wielding a stick along with them to chase snakes away and keep watch. The reptiles even enter the rooms, they said.
Not in transit
Rajendra colony, which falls under Mhada’s jurisdiction, needs a no-objection certificate from the authority for the redeveloper to begin the work. A builder had taken up the job to renovate the colony and had rehabilitated the residents temporarily.
The ration card officials were moved to a space in the colony beside it, which is again a small tumbledown arrangement. The staff thought it was a transitory arrangement and that they would soon be allotted another place. But it’s been close to a year now and they still find themselves working out of two decrepit structures. The builder cannot touch the building until the Mhada’s NOC.
Former Mumbai mayor Shubha Raul, a corporator here, said, “This has been a longstanding problem with the MHADA department. They have still not considered the plight of these officials. I took up this point in the ward council meeting and will get this problem fixed soon. I’ll try and arrange a good place for them.” Anil Deshmukh, minister for food and civil supplies, said, “I was informed about this issue and we will soon give them a new replacement.”
Officers were asked to move out of the dilapidated building