Today one of my friend told me that he is planning to contest election for his apartment Resident Welfare Association. He aspire to become President of Resident Welfare Association. Objective is Self Welfare instead of Residents Welfare. Quite interestingly, this particular plan is my friend’s retirement plan (Regular Source of Income). In last 12 years, i have stayed in 7 apartments in 2 different cities & it’s quite unfortunate to conclude that Resident Welfare Association has become Gold Mine for Corruption.
Corruption is more prevalent in bigger apartment complex. Reason being, In small apartments there is a watch on every penny spent. In a big complex, money is freely available for spending. More expenditure means more corruption. One interesting observation from my side, economies of scale does not apply in maintenance cost. Ideally maintenance cost per sq ft of small complex should be high compared to big complex but it’s always other way round. According to my calculation, 20% to 30% of total monthly maintenance budget can be easily earned back by office bearers of Resident Welfare Association through fake bills, kickbacks, commissions or cuts.
Some of the simplest ways to earn kickbacks are as follows
1. Cuts from personal support staff & vendors like maids, car cleaners, milkman, newspaper vendor, cloth iron vendor etc. The Resident Welfare Association issue limited passes & create monopolistic scenario. These vendors get good business and can happily pay good amount in return as bribe. Can u imagine, in one of my previous apartment complex of 600 flats there were only 2 vendors each for cloth ironing, milk supply & newspaper. No need to say more :)
2. Consumables like water & diesel for generator are other big money spinners. Normally there is no accounting of billed v/s actually consumed for big complex. Easily 20%-25% of expenditure on these consumables can be siphon off. In one of complex, few million Rupees were spent on water bore wells but supply from these bore wells were negligible. Project was undertaken just to siphon off money.
3. Cuts from Security & House Keeping agencies. No one count how many people are employed for these jobs. Resident Welfare Association will pay to agency for 30 security guards and 40 House Keeping staff but in actual only 15 guards and 20 house keeping staff is working. If anyone point out then simple excuse is that rest of staff is on leave today. Imagine the quantum of money being made because agencies are hands in gloves with Resident Welfare Association (for the welfare of office bearers).
I can share 100 more loopholes but unfortunately it can’t be controlled. Residents are also equally responsible for misuse of their hard earned money. We feel proud by negotiating with road side vendor & saving 10 Rs but don’t care for 4k-5k per month we are paying towards maintenance.
In my opinion Right to Information Act, 2005 or RTI Act is the most revolutionary step post independence. This act can help in accountability of Resident Welfare Association but unfortunately RTI Act does not cover Resident Welfare Association directly under its ambit despite the fact that Resident Welfare Association is registered legal entity. It’s actually a grey area. The Resident Welfare Association come under Registrar of Societies and Registrar of Societies come under RTI Act. Therefore any resident can demand any information regarding working of Resident Welfare Association through Registrar of Societies but It actually defeats the whole purpose. Reason for this anomaly is that office bearers of Resident Welfare Association are in office of Non-Profit (technically) as they don’t get salary or profits for their work but reality is totally different. I hope & wish that next amendement to RTI Act by Government will bring Resident Welfare Association directly under it’s preview.
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