Short-staffed BMTF keeps plaints pending

The Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) has been finding it difficult to handle complaints by the public due to  shortage of trained staff. 

In the last six months, BMTF has received around 300 complaints related to building byelaw violations, unauthorised construction, and commercial activities in residential areas, just to name a few. Instead of acting on these complaints, the BMTF has preferred to simply list their status as “pending,” owing to a grave shortage of staff.

According to the BMTF, in the period between January and May, as many as 318 complaints were filed by members of the public on the departmental website.

In most cases, however, a preliminary inquiry is yet to be conducted before any action can be taken against the accused.  

“There has been a delay in attending to public complaints as we have an acute shortage of staff, especially in the Town Planning section of the BMTF,” said the Task Force chief R P Sharma.

“Presently, there are only three people in the Town Planning wing as against the sanctioned 15 posts. A letter has already been sent to the principal secretary, Urban Development Department, on October 8, 2012, requesting to fill the posts of technical town planning staff, but steps have still not yet been initiated in this regard,” he said.

The administrative section also has only three staff members, while the police section has just five police officials, besides other personnel.

Lack of space too

Apart from the manpower shortage, another hurdle faced by the State government agency is lack of space. The BMTF office is currently located at the BBMP office building at NR Square.

According to sources, though the government had earlier sanctioned 7,000 sq ft of office space for the BMTF at Shantinagar, Double Road, the space is still unoccupied due to financial issues.

The Force’s record of handling public complaints appears to have been a little better last year. It received around 700 online complaints. The total number of accused persons arrested in the cases amounted to 64, while the number of cases under investigation was around 11 — as per figures mentioned on the website.

 According to officials with the BMTF, the task force is little understood by the public, owing to several controversies and rumours that its tenure was coming to an end on March 31.

“People believe that our organisation is now non-operational. But the State government has clearly informed the High Court that the BMTF has not been not abolished. Its tenure has actually been extended, and there is no proposal to abolish the Force in the near future,” Sharma said.

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