KERALA

If cash crunch continues, street lights may go off, taps go dry

A long line of customers at the State Bank of India branch at Menaka in the city on Sunday, even before the start of banking hours, to exchange currency notes.— Photo: H. Vibhu

A long line of customers at the State Bank of India branch at Menaka in the city on Sunday, even before the start of banking hours, to exchange currency notes.— Photo: H. Vibhu  

Corporation’s revenue collection plummets; day-to-day activities may be hit

Street lights in Kochi may go off, water taps may run dry and waste will accumulate on city streets, leading to serious health issues if the financial crisis set off by the demonetisation of high value currency notes continues.

The financial measures announced by the Centre on November 8 is leaving its impact in unexpected sectors and have threatened to disrupt life in the city.

As city residents are left with no money to pay taxes, Kochi Corporation’s revenue collection has plummeted, giving rise to fears that its day-to-day activities may be hit.

The revenue collection of the civic body has touched an all-time low. Over the last two days, the collection was to the tune of Rs.2 lakh. On regular days, the civic body used to collect an average of Rs.25 lakh a day, said Deputy Mayor T.J. Vinod.

On a monthly average, the civic body needs Rs.8 crore for meeting the expenses including fuel costs for its vehicles, payment of service taxes such as power and water bills, salary of its employees, payments to casual labourers and pension. The steep fall in revenue collection would push local self-governments to a crisis, said Mr. Vinod, who is also chairman of the finance standing committee of the corporation.

If the crisis persists, all essential services offered by the civic body, including the cleaning of streets and removal of waste, will have to be suspended.

The non-payment of power bills to Kerala State Electricity Board and water charges to the Kerala Water Authority may hit essential services.

The monthly power bills of the civic body would come to Rs.1.20 crore and water charges to Rs.30 lakh, he said.

There is no clarity on the delayed payment of bills. The State government should intervene to solve the crisis and provide some relaxation to the local bodies, he demanded.

Mayor Soumini Jain has written to the Union Finance Minister, State Chief Minister, Finance Minister and Minister for Local Self Governments to permit the local body to receive taxes using Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes that were withdrawn.

The Centre has permitted a few agencies to receive payments using the banned currencies.

The facility should also be extended to the local bodies so as to overcome the crisis, said Mr. Vinod.

Recommended for you