Bengaluru

Civic body owes contractors over ₹3,200 crore in pending bills

The BBMP spends nearly ₹1,000 crore a year on solid waste management alone.

The BBMP spends nearly ₹1,000 crore a year on solid waste management alone.

With pending bills to contractors mounting to ₹3,229 crore, the fiscal health of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is once again under scrutiny. Senior civic officials said these are bills for various development work taken up by the BBMP.

The civic body has also taken up projects that were sanctioned by the current and previous State Governments under various schemes. Most of these are on-going and are estimated to cost around ₹9,000 crore. The State Government is yet to sanction funds to the BBMP for the same, officials admitted.

Where is the tax payers’ money going?

The civic body’s main revenue source is property tax. But so far, the BBMP has been able to collect ₹2,635 crore, as against a target of ₹4,000 crore. This is just around 66% of its target. Though it has been able to garner more property tax this year than before, much of the revenue generated is going towards administrative expenses and solid waste management, said senior officials. A small portion of the tax payers’ money goes towards COVID-19 management, as a large part is being funded by the State Government.

A senior official told The Hindu that BBMP has implemented the 7th Pay Commission. Monthly administrative expenses, including payment of salaries and pensions, come up to around ₹350 crore. “We are barely managing to scrape through each month,” the official admitted.

Solid waste management is a major expenditure for the civic body. The BBMP spends nearly ₹1,000 crore a year on solid waste management alone. “Contractors were hoping for some bills to be cleared at least ahead of the Sankranthi festival,” said G. M. Ravindra, general secretary, BBMP Contractors’ Association.

He said their bills were pending for 28 months now. “We have written several times seeking payment of pending bills on seniority basis, to no avail. We even met with the Chief Commissioner last week,” he said.

Mr. Ravindra alleged that the BBMP was not maintaining seniority in bill payments. “Though the order by the High Court of Karnataka states that only 20% bills may be cleared on an emergency basis and the rest paid on seniority basis, the civic body is not following this. That apart, to avoid floating tenders, the BBMP has also been diverting works to KRIDL (Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Ltd.),” he claimed and said the association had planned to strike work and protest. “However, given the spike in COVID-19 cases, we have put it off, for now,” he said.

Monthly administrative expenses, including payment of salaries and pensions, come up to around ₹350 crore. We are barely managing to scrape through each month: BBMP official

In figures

Property tax collected to date: ₹2,635 crore

Target: ₹4,000 crore

Administrative expenses: ₹350 crore a month

Solid waste management: ₹1,000 crore a year

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 12:28:34 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/civic-body-owes-contractors-over-3200-crore-in-pending-bills/article38282766.ece