KARNATAKA

Banks return BBMP cheques; garbage contractors upset

Afshan Yasmeen

This has affected routine cleaning work in some parts of the city

13 cheques were returned on four occasions`There is no financial crisis but the flow of money is slow'

BANGALORE: The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)'s cash reserves are so low that it is defaulting on its regular monthly bills. Cheques worth more than Rs. 1.63 crore issued by the erstwhile BMP on January 12 to garbage contractors entrusted with cleaning areas in the west zone of the city have bounced four times since the date of issue. Cheques issued to contractors in the south zone too bounced twice and were cleared only when they were presented the third time.

This has happened at a time when the BBMP is on the verge of introducing a revamped solid waste management system by spending Rs. 390 crore for the next three years. Now, the civic body is paying Rs. 5.40 crore per month to private contractors for clearing and transporting the city's 2,200 tonnes of waste.

13 cheques

As many as 13 cheques of Syndicate Bank's Palace Guttahalli branch issued on January 12, and signed by the BBMP Assistant Controller (Finance West), to the contractors were returned four times by several banks where they were presented for clearance.

`Insufficient funds'

A cheque for Rs. 16,69,652 (cheque number 564111), which was presented at the Canara Bank's Hombegowdanagar branch on January 18, January 20, January 24 and January 27 was returned by Syndicate Bank where it was sent for clearing. The reason is "insufficient funds", according to a statement issued by Syndicate Bank.

Similarly, another cheque for Rs. 4,93,320 (cheque number 564121) has been returned by Canara Bank's Rajajinagar branch in the same period and on the same grounds.

This has upset the contractors. As a result, routine cleaning work has been affected. "It is difficult for us because we too have commitments. We have managed to borrow and pay the workers. But it is difficult to bear the daily fuel costs if our payment is held up like this. Our regular petrol bunks refuse to give us fuel unless we clear the pending bills. Besides we have to pay `cheque return charges' every time a cheque bounces," general secretary of the Bangalore Mahanagara Swachate Lorry Maalikara Mattu Guttigedarara Sangha S. Balasubramaniam said.

Last January, the BMP had not deposited the life insurance premium deducted from the salaries of over 5,000 employees for four months.

Unmindful of the fact that the employees' Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) polices could lapse if the premium was not paid for three months in a row, the then BMP Chief K. Jothiramalingam had admitted that the civic body was facing a financial crunch.

He had said that the crisis was because the Government had cut BMP's grants by Rs. 56 crore annually after the Stamps and Registration Act was amended.

The BBMP Chief Accounts Officer Deepak Doraivar told The Hindu on Monday that the problem would be sorted out and all cheques would be cleared soon. "This happened because the transfer of funds from Canara Bank's BMP extension counter to Syndicate Bank got delayed. There is no financial crisis but the flow of money is slow usually during January-February as it is a lean period for us," he added.

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