Mumbai: BMC auctions seized goods worth Rs 460 cr for only Rs 22 cr

Oct 07, 2017, 08:46 IST | Laxman Singh

While civic body maintains a lot of the seized property from January 2010 to March 2017 were perishables, activist alleges officials sold them dirt cheap to agents, who in turn sold them back to hawkers

Besides making streets less crowded, traffic smooth and pedestrians' life easy, action on illegal hawkers is giving something more to the civic body - adding to its kitty, courtesy the auctioning of the seized goods. As per the reply to an RTI application, from January 2010 to March 2017, it has seized items, including fruits, vada pav, Chinese stalls, handcarts, tables and cylinders worth Rs 459.98 crore but managed to earn only Rs 22.28 crore via auctions.

As per data, civic body has taken action on 14.86 lakh hawkers in the last seven years. File pic
As per data, civic body has taken action on 14.86 lakh hawkers in the last seven years. File pic

The RTI application was filed by Andheri activist Syed Haider Imam, who said, "I have told the police to file an FIR against senior inspector of the licence department. The data shows auction rates are low to benefit agents who purchase the goods and sell them back to hawkers." "This benefits officials too. Hence, BMC should immediately implement the hawkers' policy," he added.

How it works
The civic body has taken action against 14.86 lakh hawkers in seven years, seizing goods worth Rs 150.59 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 102 crore in 2015-16. Buts its earnings through auctions in those periods were Rs 3.74 crore and Rs 2.88 crore, respectively.

A source said staff of licence and encroachment removal departments of every ward take action on illegal hawkers. They seize the goods and keep them in the municipal godowns. The first step is redemption - a hawker can visit the godown and get the articles back by paying a penalty.

The goods that aren't reclaimed are then auctioned, at rates much lower than those prevailing in the market and at which redemption is done.

For example, four-wheeler handcarts (crushed), readymade cloth and iron stalls are auctioned at Rs 700 apiece, Rs 25 per kg and Rs 30 kg, respectively. But the redemption charges for the same are Rs 10,000 apiece, Rs 4,800 per 10 kg and Rs 14,000 per stall.

From the horse's mouth
A civic official said, "Market price of a new iron stall is Rs 3,000, but in an auction, it can be got for less than Rs 500, as it will weigh 5 to 10 kg. So, those who buy these articles sell them back to the hawkers."

However, superintendent of licence department Sharad Bande denied the allegation and said, "The recovery is less as perishable items are disposed of immediately. Seized cylinders are not auctioned, but sent to gas companies, and handcarts are crushed. So even if we count these goods while calculating the seizure amount, these are neither auctioned nor go through redemption."

"The rates set are the minimum bid amounts; we get more. Also, the rates are revised every two years," he added.

Rs 10k
What a hawker has to pay to reclaim his/her handcart

Rs 700
Price of a handcart in an auction

Rs 150.59 cr
Value of goods seized in 16-17, the highest

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