The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) authorities are firm on collecting dues from Vastralata traders. They have also geared up to revise the rent by 33.3 per cent very soon.

The Vastralata traders, with active support of local MLAs, have been demanding the Corporation to sell away the shops rented to them. The issue has become a topic for discussion in the corridors of the Corporation. The employees were seen discussing that the MLAs were mounting pressure on VMC higher ups to heed their suggestion. The higher ups brought the matter to notice of Commissioner and Director of Municipal Administration. They sought the CDMA direction in this regard, sources say.

The problem cropped up when the VMC authorities attempted to recover the mounting dues from shopkeepers in Vastralata complex. The shopkeepers in the complex have to clear the dues to the tune of Rs. 8 crore. There are 407 shops in the complex, and most of them are into wholesale textile business.

They are paying a rent of Rs. 20 lakh per month. As per the rules, the rent would be enhanced by 33.3 per cent. The traders were up in arms against the Corporation when it attempted to revise the rent in 2008. Some of them even moved court.

The VMC did not take much interest in 2011—three years from 2008 and hike the rent.

The issue was kept on backburner later. Cash-strapped VMC began exploring the revenue avenues, and found that the Vastralata shops rent revision was over due. The shopkeepers knocked the doors of MLAs saying that they were ready to buy the shops if VMC were ready to sell away.

As the MLAs responded positively to their plea, a tug of war is on between shopkeepers and the VMC authorities. “Come what may we will not bow down to the pressures. Vastralatha is a public property, and will be a public property,” said an official.

On the other hand, the VMC has pledged the Vastralata to Hudco to avail a loan of Rs. 100 crore.

The complex is valued at Rs. 70 crore. To avail the loan, the VMC mortgaged IV Palace and other properties. The Corporation is yet to clear the Hudco loan.

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