GHMC general body meeting sees heated debate on advertisement policy

The meeting, which included budget session, was adjourned to Tuesday midway through, owing to another emergency meeting

Published - February 20, 2024 08:23 am IST - HYDERABAD

View of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation head office in Hyderabad

View of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation head office in Hyderabad | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Sparks flew against the attitude of officials, the condition of streetlights and the advertisement policy of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), in the first GHMC general body meeting post Assembly elections, conducted on Monday.

The meeting, which included budget session, was adjourned to Tuesday midway through, owing to another emergency meeting. On Tuesday, the council will discuss the ₹8,437-crore budget proposed by the GHMC.

Following serious allegations by several corporators about large-scale corruption in granting advertising rights to private agencies, Mayor Gadwal Vijayalakshmi directed the GHMC Commissioner D. Ronald Rose to appoint an enquiry officer to investigate into the claims, and submit a report. She also promised to constitute a house committee to pore over the advertisement policy of the corporation.

Corporator Vanga Madhusudhan Reddy raised the issue during question hour, and alleged that three agencies have monopolised the advertisement space in the city with blessings from a few officials, depriving a large number of smaller players. The previous government’s order banning hoardings above 15-foot height from ground level was issued to favour these agencies, he alleged.

While the agencies have been using all the advertising space on the metro rail pillars, portals, parapet walls, and skywalks after paying pittance of ₹11,500 to ₹40,000 to the Hyderabad Metro Rail, they are charging huge amounts extending to ₹10 lakh to ₹12 lakh from their own customers who use the space. GHMC stands to lose on a lot of advertisement revenue, as it is not getting a single rupee from the whole deal. While State and Central governments are partners in the Metro Rail project, their advertisements in their own space are being charged several lakhs of rupees, he alleged.

He sought to know the status of the bus shelters which have been given for 15 years’ lease on BOT basis, and the lakhs of digital boards on which tax is not being collected as per GHMC Act.

MLC and ex-officio member M.S. Prabhakar Rao supported the allegations, and said GHMC should aim to increase its revenue from trade licenses and advertisements.

MLA Mir Zulfiqar Ali questioned the 15-year lease on bus shelters, saying GHMC does not have power to grant lease for more than three years.

Several members including corporators Mirza Mustafa Baig, B.Sridevi and M.Kavitha Reddy, legislator A.Gandhi, and others severely castigated the officials for the status of the streetlights across the city. At many locations, the lamps are glowing during the day, and being switched off in the night, and replacement of the faulty bulbs, and cabling is not taking place, they said.

Answering their questions, the commissioner said a complaint was made to the chairman & managing director of the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) which is responsible for streetlights up to 2025. He said a sub-contractor of EESL has stopped changing the SIM cards related to the timers installed in the CCMS boxes, as his payments were stopped.

EESL allotted 30 resource persons to the GHMC for manual switching on/off of the streetlights, and soon, the issues will be resolved, he assured.

At the beginning of the session, corporator Sravan Vurapalli raised the issue of GHMC officials not responding to public representatives when sought any information. Alleging that several officers are drawing plum salaries without any job to speak of, he questioned how a large number of officials are continuing for years on deputation here.

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