In an apparent show of laxity and mismanagement, the Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC) has been found uninterested in taking any initiative to recover payments worth `3 crore from more than nine advertising agencies.
In the past one decade, not even a single notice has been issued, even as contract of most of the companies got expired in 2011 and 2014.
Though the fourth Delhi Commission report in October last year has strongly recommended fixing responsibility for the financial loss on the part of officials, but the MC authorities seem to look the other way. Above and all, the MC’s income this year has been just `49 crore and is 30% short of the target of `70 crore.
Most of the contracts are related to agreements of advertisements on public utilities in Chandigarh. All these agencies were given the contract on Built Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis for five years, which was also extended for a period of two years during last five to 10 years.
In December last year, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in a similar case of contract of advertisement on public toilets, had registered an FIR against the MC officials and Selvel Media Services Company for the agreement of 40 and 46 number public toilets in Chandigarh in 2007.
Subsequently, the MC issued notices for recovery of advertisement fees worth `4 crore from the said company.
On the other hand, it has also come to the fore that there are nearly nine similar contracts of other advertisement companies , wherein no notices has been issued after assessing the advertising fees against their contracts and the amount comes to around `3 crore.
(Former mayor Subhash Chawla said: “We don’t understand why actions are not being initiated against the erring officers, who have caused a whopping loss of public money.
“Why the officials have not issued notices to advertisement agencies till date?” he questioned.
Biswadeep Dutta, general manager, Selvel Media Services, said: “Double standards of the civic body have come to the fore as we are only being singled out. At the same time, it is strange that they have not issued any notice to rest of the advertisement companies. We have already challenged the notices in the Punjab and Haryana high court. We will bring the issue of functioning of the civic body to the notice of the court soon.”
However, when contacted, MC additional commissioner Sarita Malik said: “I have joined the office recently. We will definitely investigate the matter and make sure that every penny is recovered from the said agencies.”
She added: “Moreover, we have asked for the list of said agencies from the chief engineers’ office. We are hopeful that we’ll get it (list) this week.”