CCAA members to state government: We can't work in this filth

Updated: Aug 27, 2019, 08:07 IST | Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

Members of Consumer Court Advocates Association have accused state govt of ignoring their complaints regarding abominable work conditions at their Old Secretariat office

Employees point to filthy office premises. Pics/Atul Kamble
Employees point to filthy office premises. Pics/Atul Kamble

Members of the Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission of Maharashtra have been themselves seeking redressal. The Consumer Court Advocates Association (CCAA) has accused the state government of not addressing issues regarding low hygiene standards at their workplace in Annex Building, Old Secretariat at  Kala Ghoda.

The president of State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Justice AP Bhangale, told mid-day that his judicial staff members have been suffering from dengue and malaria for the last few months. "The maintenance of hygiene is not satisfactory at all. There are several pockets filled with rain-water where dengue mosquitoes lay eggs. Many judicial staff members including me were bitten and I was admitted to JJ Hospital for eight days for dengue. This is a pathetic condition," said the former Bombay High Court judge.

CCAAToilets in the building are seldom cleaned, with leaky flush tanks and walls

"I had called municipal officials who took photographs of the place. But no measures were taken to keep the area clean. One of our staff members is hospitalised since July 25. The entire system has been neglected by the government," he added.

Stenographer Meenakshi Sawant too told mid-day that she was diagnosed with malaria and admitted to Thana Health Care for eight days in two consecutive years — 2017 and 2018. "Now I am scared to come to work especially during the monsoon as the mosquitoes enter through the broken windows of the court," said Sawant. The team was shifted to the building four years ago, but wasn’t provided "with basic facilities (like toilets, drinkable water etc). We have to fight for everything," said Justice (retd) Bhangale.

CCAA joint secretary advocate Anita Marathe said, "We have been helping consumers get justice but here we have been neglected by the authorities. There is no washroom for females in court. We have to climb the stairs up to three floors to use the washroom in another office in the building." "The washroom for men is highly unhygienic too. One can faint with the stink," said advocate Nagraj Hoskeri, a member of CCAA.

CCAABroken window glasses haven’t been repaired for years.

Letter to government

Justice (retd) Bhangale told mid-day that he has written to the state government regarding the pathetic condition of the office and the toilets.

The Registrar of State Commission on deputation Deepa Gaikwad, who handles issues pertaining to renovation of premises occupied by consumer forums across Maharashtra, said that the funds sanctioned by the state government were "yet to be released and it needs to be expedited.

The office was earlier located near CSMT. "We were partly shifted here in 2018. Now we are divided into two locations — CSMT and Kalaghoda. The registrar and staff required for efficient administration have no place to sit in the premises at Annex Building of Old Secretariat at Kala Ghoda. There is a dearth of space in the court. I have written letters to the authority for grants to repair the premises and space for keeping court records. For repair work, R29.43 lakh was granted by the state government but the funds have not been dispensed so far," Justice (retd) Bhangale said.

"After writing a series of letters and reminders, the authorities granted us R5.95 lakh for the repair of toilets on July 15 but the money has not been released by the finance department so far," he added.

Compliance due

CCAA president Uday Warunjikar told mid-day that a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) related to the pathetic infrastructure of the Consumer Court has been filed by the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat in the High Court.

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