Cash-strapped NDMC now falling into deficit trap

NEW DELHI MARCH 29. All is not well with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). If declining receipts and increasing expenditure for the financial year 2001-2002 year is any indication, it seems that this cash rich civic body is now falling into a deficit trap.

While NDMC registered Rs.40 crores increase in its collection in 1999-2000, this figure rose vertically and touched the Rs.88 crore mark in 2000-2001. But the budget estimates for 2001-2002 show a sharp decline of Rs.43 crores in receipts and this downward trend is a source for worry for the Council's senior officials.

Presenting a Rs.1-crore surplus budget estimates for 2002- 2003 without any provision for new tax, the NDMC Chairman, Subhash Sharma, said here on Thursday that the civic body is likely to register a deficit of Rs.53 crores during the financial year 2001-2002. "This is due to a sharp decline in receipts as well as an increase in expenditure.''

Providing for an expenditure of Rs.861 crores for 2002-2003, Mr. Sharma said against an estimated receipt of Rs.831 crores, only Rs.788 crores could be realised. Similarly, against an estimated expenditure of Rs.829 crores, the figure is expected to touch Rs.841 crores.

Mr. Sharma announced that in 2002-2003, a major proportion of expenditure would be on power supply (Rs.400 crores); education, sports and social services (Rs.88 crores); sanitation and public health (Rs.77 crores); water supply (Rs.34 crores) and roads, public works and projects (Rs.87 crores).

The major source of revenue would be from sale of electricity and water (Rs.517 crores); taxes (Rs.109 crores); license fee properties (Rs.75 crores); interest on investment (Rs.94 crores); external assistance like money from MLA fund (Rs.30 crores) and collection from parking lots, kiosks and advertisements (Rs.37 crores), he added.

The NDMC Chairman accepted that despite concerted efforts by the civic body, it failed to succeed in realising revenues as envisaged in the budget estimates for 2001-2002. "The main reason behind decline in receipts are non-completion of the New Delhi City Centre (NDCC) Phase II which could not be rented out, outstanding arrears due to pending court cases and certain Government departments not paying license fee,'' he said, adding that the increase in electricity charges of Rs.320 crores as against Rs.250 crores paid to Delhi Vidyut Board also added to the increase in expenditure.

Mr. Sharma announced that in the next financial year, the major thrust would be on expansion of computer education in its schools; sustainable expenditure in augmentation of power and water supply; water harvesting; making the Council areas "jhuggi-free'' by shifting around 40 "jhuggi'' clusters and expansion of social welfare activities.

Highlighting the Council's achievements in 2001-2002, Mr. Sharma said the first-of-its-kind voluntary counseling and testing centre for HIV had been set up at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Marg; 26 modern toilets and five garbage stations were constructed and a new working girls' hostel was commissioned besides augmenting power and water supply; installation of high mast lightings, launch of Council's website and announcement of new parking policy.

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