Just around a fortnight ago, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had only Rs. 4 crore in its bank account. After laying stress on revenue generation from various sources and getting funds from the State government, the civic body now has Rs. 200 crore in its coffers, claimed in-charge Commissioner Siddaiah.
Responding to the Opposition leader M.K. Gunashekar’s demand for a White Paper on the financially ailing BBMP, he said the loan from the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) to restructure the loans was inevitable. “Given the precarious financial condition, we all must exercise discretion and take up only necessary works. Of the Rs. 1,000 crore loan from HUDCO, the BBMP will be using Rs. 400 crore to swap high-interest loans. It is inevitable for the BBMP to borrow from HUDCO to prevent the civic body accounts from being frozen and becoming a non-performing asset,” he said.
Mr. Siddaiah said that Rs. 200 crore would be utilised for development works such as arterial road development under TenderSure and road-widening. Efforts are under way to prepare estimates, float tenders and get additional grants from the government. He added that the BBMP officials had met HUDCO officials seeking release of another Rs. 400 crore.
Mr. Siddaiah said the BBMP had 13,260 spillover works worth Rs. 2,391 crore, while the pending bills amount to a staggering Rs. 2,977 crore. With just three months left of this financial year, the BBMP has to struggle to garner Rs. 4,500 crore revenue from all possible sources.
“Though the government has released Rs. 765 crore for various works, more funds are due to the BBMP. If we do not exercise discretion with regard to programme of works, the pending works will increase to Rs. 6,000 crore next year,” he added.
As a means to garner more revenue, the former Mayor S.K. Nataraj and Kacharakanahalli councillor Padmanabha Reddy suggested that the BBMP should collect improvement charges from citizens who want khata for their revenue sites. “There are nearly three lack revenue properties. If the BBMP starts collecting improvement charges, many citizens who are waiting for khata will benefit. The civic body can do so pending approval from the government,” Mr. Reddy said. Mr. Nataraj said though a gazette notification had been issued in this regard, it was not being implemented.
Mr. Siddaiah explained that the Karnataka Land Revenue Act first needed to be amended, before the BBMP could start collecting the charges.
Earlier, Yediyur councillor N.R. Ramesh alleged that there were several scams in the Forest Department. He alleged that there was a scam in procurement of saplings from nurseries in other States.
He charged that officials were creating bogus bills. As a solution, he suggested that the BBMP entrust the responsibility to the Horticulture Department.