Monday, April 03, 2017

Panel wants residents to get easy access to housing society info

DNA‎‎: Mumbai: Monday, April 03, 2017.
In a bid to make information about cooperative housing societies transparent and more accessible, you may soon be approached to give suggestions for the same. A member of a state government-appointed committee, who is working to bring cooperative housing societies as a separate chapter under the ambit of the Maharashtra Cooperatives Act, 1960, will be posing questions to citizens in a series of meetings that are planned across the city.
Suggestions will be sought to analyse the feasibility and extent of various aspects of the RTI act that can be incorporated into the Maharashtra Cooperatives Act.
Keeping in mind rapid urbanisation and the increasing number of cooperative housing societies, the government in February formed a 10-member committee to include a separate chapter of cooperative housing societies under the Maharashtra Cooperatives Act. This was done because the functioning and problems of cooperative housing societies are distinct from other societies, and are often not addressed.
Ramesh Prabhu, one of the two non-government members in the committee, will engage with citizens to know what their views are and take suggestions. "Among the issues or complaints we receive, the most common complaint is that of members not being given enough information by their societies. To address this problem, we feel that societies should either come under the ambit of RTI Act to the extent that only society members can seek information," said Prabhu, who is also the chairman of Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association (MSWA) that claims to have 30,000 housing societies as its members.
The committee members are supposed to study various laws to address the issue of transfer of land, redevelopment, day-to-day functioning of cooperative housing societies, and how the interest of societies can be best served. "Members can get information as per the Societies Act, but most of the times it is not provided. They want details on redevelopment, the number of offers for redevelopment, among other information. The cooperative housing society movement is a grass-root level democratic set up. There should be transparency," said Prabhu.
Chayya Ajgaonkar, another member of Mumbai Housing Federation said, "Incorporation of RTI on societies is not feasible. The committee will eventually take a call but I do not think that should be the case."
"RTI as such is a broad term. Why should a person living in one society know what the other society is doing. We are framing rules and whether RTI or not, floodgates of information will be opened for members of society. We will expand the definition of information that can be provided under the Society Act," said a senior member of the state government-appointed committee.