Santosh Dube, owner of a coaching class in Jogeshwari, has been doing the rounds of the municipal offices for some information regarding a notice he has received from the civic body. But over the last couple of days, there's been no answer as the staff are not in office. "I'm told this is because the staff are on election duty," said Dube.
Since a week, services at Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation have been hit, leaving many like Dube in the lurch even for routine civic requirements.
A civic official said that a major chunk of election work has not been completed. This, said the official, has led to municipal employees being made to share the burden of election duty. The municipal authorities are now juggling election duty as well as their daily chores.
All 24 civic ward offices have deployed staff from each department – water, licence, health, conservancy, shops and establishment – thus affecting daily civic services. Consequently, garbage collection is being done quite late since last week, there are serpentine queues at the licence department and there has been a delay in issue of birth, marriage and death certificates.
A senior civic official confirmed that they have been told to depute their staff for election duty. "To complete the voters' list, our staff are expected to visit households and collect people's photographs besides other poll-related work," said this official, adding that there are lakhs of voters whose photographs need to be affixed on the electoral list.
"In each civic ward, there are at least 2lakh photos to be collected and the list has to be maintained. We've been given only a month to do the job," said the official. "Despite deputing more than 100 staff from each ward, completion of the task seems far away."
An assistant commissioner from the western suburbs confirmed that this is causing hardship to the general public. "We're trying to bridge the gap by requesting our staff to work beyond their office hours. We cannot refuse election work," said the official.