Company defrauds Corporation of crores by marketing advertising space in 299 structures

A private company erected 299 illegal bus shelters by forging a letter from the bus route roads department that misrepresented a Chennai Corporation council resolution. The civic body lost revenue worth crores of rupees due to these structures.

The Corporation will remove the structures immediately and file a complaint with the Central Crime Branch.

Last year, the firm submitted a letter, purportedly written by the superintending engineer of bus route roads Department, citing Corporation Council resolution number 256/2012, dated 22.8.2012. The letter, referring to the resolution that apparently permitted the company to construct bus shelters on various roads, sought power supply for the advertisement boards of the shelters. Subsequently, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board supplied power to the illegal structures for illuminating advertisement boards. The company marketed its advertisement space and began generating revenue in crores.

Officials also said that the company cited the letter to prevent Corporation workers from removing the illegal shelters.

It was during the drive to remove illegal shelters that Corporation officials, scrutinising the documents, found that resolution number 256/2012 pertained to the education department and had nothing to do with bus shelters. The bus route roads department too denied issuing any letter regarding the issue.

Each of the bus shelters has so far generated between Rs. 25,000-Rs. 30,000 per month for the company. But the company has not paid any royalty to Chennai Corporation.

The civic body will remove all illegal bus shelters by Friday and install 500 bus shelters in the city with its own funds. The bus shelters will be commissioned by the Corporation at a cost of Rs.10.31 lakh each.

Under the PPP mode currently in practice, the work to modernise 99 bus shelters, on a build-operate-and-transfer basis, was entrusted to Mumbai-based Laqshya Media Private Limited a few years ago. The Corporation council allowed Laqshya Media Private Limited to let out 180 sq. ft. in each of the shelters for advertisements. The civic body received Rs. 2.4 crore as royalty from the company in the first year.

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