BBMP is accused of diverting library cess for other projects

Several people, who went to public libraries across the city last month to read newspapers and magazines, had to return disappointed. With the cash-strapped Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) failing to transfer the library cess it had collected from property owners to the Department of Public Libraries since the past eight months, newspaper vendors had suspended supply to the libraries.

Though the supply resumed in the first week of April after the department arranged to clear a portion of the dues from its contingency fund, vendors have threatened to stop supply if all their dues are not cleared by the end of this month.

“With the library cess outstanding for eight months, we have not been able to clear the dues of newspaper vendors,” conceded Mahantesh M Badni, Director, Department of Public Libraries.

About six per cent of the property tax collected in Bangalore is set aside as library cess. The civic body is expected to transfer the same to the Department of Libraries. Most libraries subscribe to English, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi and Urdu newspapers and magazines. A large number of people, who visit the 160-odd public libraries, have complained about the non-availability of newspapers and magazines. About 70 per cent of the visitors read newspapers, said Diwakar, Deputy Director, Department of Public Libraries.

A newspaper agent, who has bagged a tender to supply newspapers and magazines to 25 public libraries, said his dues had reached Rs. 13 lakh. At a meeting convened last month of senior officials of the Department of Libraries and the Urban Development Department in the presence of BBMP Commissioner Lakshminarayana, the civic body promised to clear the library cess dues from the government grants they were expecting in March-April.

“But how can they divert the library cess to other works and pay the Department of Libraries from the government grant?” Mr. Badni said.

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