Planners who are worried about poor resource mobilisation by local bodies may have a lesson to take from Kumily panchayat in Idukki district which has succeeded in raising its own resources from Rs.28 lakh to roughly Rs.1.50 crore now.
The man who made this possible was CPI(M) president of the panchayat M.S. Vasu, who took over as the panchayat president on October 11, 2005, and left it as part of the power-sharing arrangement in the Left Democratic Front (LDF) on May 9, 2009, leaving the panchayat richer by more than Rs.1 crore annually.
Narrating his experiences with resource mobilisation at a two-day ‘Consultation on the Terms of Reference of the Fourth State Finance Commission' which concluded here on Saturday, Mr. Vasu said he and his team were able to achieve the feat with common sense methods and consensual approach to resource mobilisation.
The common sense method involved steps to ensure that every asset of the panchayat brought in an annual return. Thus even the produce from the lone coconut palm in front of the panchayat office was auctioned off to fetch Rs.250. Adopting the tender-cum-auction route, the panchayat was able to raise the income from the few stalls at the local bus stand in this tourist destination from Rs.35,000 to Rs.2.31 lakh annually and that from the comfort station at the bus stand from Rs.60,000 to Rs.4,65,000.
Perhaps even better was the effort to ensure that tourism paid for the panchayat's developmental efforts and its provisioning for bettering the lot of the 35 per cent Below Poverty Line (BPL) families. “We found that some of the resorts, including those run by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, were paying only measly sums as tax.
We called them for a meeting and told them that we are going to tax them on the basis of their revenue rather than the plinth area of their constructions and allowed to propose tax rates that would not hurt their profitable operation. In one case, we were able to raise the annual tax revenue from Rs.11,000 to Rs.1,30,000,” Mr. Vasu said and added that in the case of Aranya Nivas, a premium KTDC property, the increase was from Rs.11,000 to Rs. 6 lakh.
The additional revenue, he said, was being used to clean up the place and provide additional facilities to the thousands of tourists arriving in Kumily.
A Rs.93-lakh ‘Clean Kumily, Green Kumily' scheme is currently under implementation. The panchayat is also racing to become one with 100 per cent shelter coverage constructing some 2,000 houses under the EMS Housing Scheme, Mr. Vasu told The Hindu.
Keywords: Local self-governance