BBMP takes action to collect dues

Customers of Vijaya Bank, Apex Bank, State Bank of Mysore (SBM) and IndiaPost office branches in the Public Utility Building (PUB) were in for a surprise on Monday morning when they found them to be remained shut, even past the start of working hours. The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which owns the PUB, had sealed the four offices and put up notices outside that claimed that the establishments owed the civic body licence fees, in all, Rs. 4.55 crore.

Janakiraman K. (name changed), a senior citizen, was one of the many who came to the SBM branch for banking transaction. He was directed to the M.G. Road branch by the staff members, who were also fielding a volley of questions from concerned customers. “I had to get my passbook updated. Now, I have to walk to the M.G. Road branch,” he mumbled angrily.

A bank official, who wished to remain anonymous, said that several customers had been directed to the other branches. “We do not know when the branch will be reopened. We got to know about this only after reaching the branch in the morning, by which time the BBMP had sealed it. We are trying to avoid inconveniencing our customers and are sending them to the other branch,” she said.

BBMP officials said that Vijaya Bank owed Rs. 3.25 crore in pending licence fees and fines, SBM Rs. 63.56 lakh, Apex Bank Rs. 33.09 lakh and India Post office owed Rs. 33.54 lakh. They claimed that the four establishments had not paid the licence fees for the past three years.

Following the locking down of the premises by the BBMP, Apex Bank immediately gave a pay order and cleared the dues. Similarly, Vijaya Bank officials cleared the dues partly by paying Rs. 2 crore. Both branch offices were allowed to open.

Meanwhile, SBM officials claimed to have got a stay order from the High Court of Karnataka on the BBMP’s move to seal their branch office on Friday. However, BBMP officials maintained that they were not informed about the stay order and sealed the branch office.

They said that the matter had been referred to the BBMP’s Legal Section. SBM officials, who were present at the spot, said that the High Court had directed the BBMP to maintain status quo. “We will also check with our legal department to ascertain if the BBMP’s move is in contempt of court,” the official said.

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