MUMBAI: For over a year the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) is suddenly witnessing on large scale the appointments of independent administrators in place of housing society managements.

This has raised eyebrows among the members of hundreds of societies that are due for redevelopment as many builders and contractors have allegedly taken undue advantage of the situation.

According to experts in the cooperative sector and the officials, the administrators have no powers to interfere in major decisions of the society but despite that, a few are indulging in wrong practices. Such rampant appointments of administrators have happened because society elections could not be held for over a year due to the absence of election rules since October 2018 and later due to government decisions to postpone elections owing to Covid-19 till August this year.

“During this period many committees expired and chairmen and secretaries died. Taking advantage of this around 10 to 15 administrators have been appointed each by around 45 to 50 registrars in the Mumbai metropolitan region. Over 500 societies have seen Builders and contractors interested in going ahead with the redevelopment have taken undue advantage of this,” said Ramesh Prabhu, president of Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association, a federation of housing societies in the state.

Prabhu has demanded that elections should be declared as early as possible in these societies. “If elections are physically not possible, they be allowed digitally or online. Presently many societies are already holding AGMs and committee meetings through video conferencing,” he said.

Vijay Patel, cofounder of All India CHS Welfare Association said going by the provisions in the law the administrator or authorised officer or even the registrars have no powers in major decisions of the society such as redevelopment. “But despite that many builders have managed to take advantage of the situation by managing the administrators. The recent incident of administrators writing to a society in K West (Vile Parle, Andheri, and Jogeshwari) to go ahead with redevelopment has angered the members.

Patel said in Andheri’s Four Bungalows his own society presently being ruled by an administrator is witnessing encroachment in the society premises.

Meanwhile, a senior cooperative official, who did not want to be quoted, told TOI that any letter appointing administrator itself makes it clear that societies can demand elections after six months and can also register a complaint against him in case of any unlawful decision with the senior authorities in the cooperatives department.

“Due to delay in election rules and later due to Covid the elections could not be held in many societies leading to the appointment of administrators. However, the rights of the society members have been safeguarded if anyone takes undue advantage of the situation,” he added urging citizens to do the follow-up of such complaints to take them to their logical end.

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