Despite its emptying coffers, the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation remains apathetic towards its income sources, the annual audit report of the Indian Audit and Accounts department, Sector 17, has found.
Pointing out several anomalies, the report found that the civic body failed to collect rent to the tune of `1.4 crore from 104 Vita and Verka booths operating on its land since 2008.
Worse yet, the civic body doesn’t have a clue about when the booths were brought under its purview, even as the finance department of UT administration in 1998 issued directions to the Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers Federation Limited, Sector 34, to deposit rent of Verka booths with the MC. The rent of each booth had been fixed at `1,000 per month till 2010 when it was revised to `2,000 per month.
The MC in a House meeting had stated that when it came into existence in 1996, Verka booths were already functioning in Chandigarh and were under the control of Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation, while Vita booths were under the control of Haryana Dairy Development Cooperative Federation. As such, the agencies never paid rent to the civic body.
However, on a query in a finance and contract committee meeting held on August 23, 2010, on whether any step was taken to fix the rent of the booths, the civic body had said the rent was fixed at `2,000 per month per booth.
As per the audit report, even as the MC had failed to collect rent from the booths, their allottees were doing brisk business by the way of selling other daily need items, besides Verka products, and most of the booths had been providing STD/PCO services.
On the other hand, the Verka Milk plant in SAS Nagar had collected `4.99 crore on account of rent from the allottees during 2009-2012, the report stated.
When asked, Deshraj Chaudhary, chief accounts officer of MC, said, “We will be taking up the issue with the authorities regarding recovery of rent as it is a serious issue.”
Vehicles worth `18 lakh bought against govt instructions
In 2013-14, the fire department of MC purchased two vehicles — a Tata 407 and a Bolero Jeep — worth `18 lakh. The audit report pointed out that the circular issued by ministry of finance, department of expenditure, New Delhi, on September 18, 2013, had stated that, “Purchase of vehicles is banned until further orders, except against condemned vehicles”. Yet the vehicles were purchased after the circular was issued. Surprisingly, the Tata 407 was not put to use immediately, leading to loss of approximately one year of useful life of the vehicle, the report added.