TMC issues strict lockdown orders to Thane housing societies

April 29, 2020

Thane Municipal Corporation has issued orders to all housing societies in the city, directing them to comply with social distancing rules, barring gatherings inside common areas and placing responsibility on office bearers for enforcement of rules.

TMC Commissioner Vijay Singhal told Mirror that the order was passed keeping in mind a few residential areas which were not cooperating with the civic body. “If people are moving around inside their housing societies, the basic purpose of the lockdown will be defeated. We want to ensure all residents are safe until the lockdown is lifted,” he added.

The civic body noted that its orders on social distancing and observing the rules related to the lockdown were not being followed in some housing societies and as a result, the onus was being placed on the societies’ managing committee to implement the orders.

The order states that the Chairman and the Secretary of the housing society must prepare a list of government orders and ensure that they are communicated to the members. These rules include barring residents from leaving home for a morning or evening walk, gathering in the common areas, parking lots, passages and terraces.

In addition, the societies' managing committees will have to ensure that residents do not leave their houses for exceptional reasons. When residents do leave their homes, they must ensure that they are wearing a mask, which had been previously mandated in all public places.

The order also instructs the Chairman and Secretary of every housing society that residents who do not follow instructions must be penalised. “In case of a second offence -- except for exceptional work -- the Chairman/Secretary may register an FIR with nearest police station against him under section 188 (disobeying an order promulgated by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code,” the order reads.

While the order allows for hospitals, nursing homes and medical shops within societies to operate, they must still maintain social distancing. It also strictly notes that members should not misbehave with any other member that is found to test positive for the coronavirus.

The civic body also placed responsibility on the Chairman and Secretary for ensuring that all rules in the order are complied with. “In case it is observed that the rules are not implemented, the TMC can take necessary action and register criminal offence(s) against (them) and they may also be removed from the post of Chairman/Secretary of the Society,” the order states.

Mirror reached out to office bearers of several housing societies and found that there were many who supported the civic body’s order directing strict action against those found flouting the rules, while a few were worried about the wording of the order. "We have been following these rules since the beginning of the lockdown. I have ensured all the residents, most of whom are senior citizens, have received a copy of this order as well, so we are not worried about compliance," said Bharat Anikhindi, secretary of Center Point Society at Panchpakhadi. “I think these are extraordinary times and the decision to enforce such rules is a good one. Our 500-strong member society has not had any issues with complying with any of the rules so far,” said Prasanna Sarpotdar, advocate and chairman of Phase 6 at Siddhachal society in Thane West.

Some office bearers expressed concern over the decision to hold them accountable. “We are already working hard during the lockdown to ensure our 50-odd residents are safe. Why hold us accountable if a member decides he doesn’t want to comply?,” asked the chairman of a Naupada housing society on condition of anonymity. “I welcome the decision of the TMC, but order or no order, we will continue to work as we have before,” said DP Nambiar, chairman of Kores Nakshatra in Vartak Nagar. “If any case is filed against us we always have the courts to rely on,” he added.

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