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Clean walls cost govt Rs 1 crore

So far, the government has run up bills of Rs 75 to 80 lakh to clean up the walls, writes Romita Datta.

india Updated: Apr 02, 2006 13:33 IST

The walls have been spruced up, or so claim the official statements from the district headquarters. Now it's time for the government to foot in the bill.

The district administrations, though have taken time to clean up (or rather mess-up) the walls, have not wasted a single second to submit the reimbursement bills for the whitewashing exercise.

Fourteen out of 19 districts have so far submitted details of the expenses, along with the final reports on the status of removing the graffiti. So far, the state government has received bills amounting to Rs 75 to 80 lakh. With five more districts yet to put in their claims, the expenses is likely to cross over Rs 1 crore.

When the state government issued notification for state-wide implementation of the Prevention of Defacement of Property Act 1976, it also took upon itself the onus of bearing the entire cost of erasing wall-writings.

Now, it finds the expenses a bit too much, especially because there is a wide discrepancy in the amounts claimed.

About 11 out of 19 districts have submitted bills ranging between Rs 2 to Rs 5 lakh. On an average, majority of the districts had restrained the budget to Rs 4 lakh. However, there are three districts, which have submitted bills, amounting to Rs 12 lakh each.

The vast difference in the claims had led the state government to assess the claims, before clearing the bills.

The state government also thinks such bills are arbitrary and there is no rhyme or reason about the claims.

This is because the districts have followed their own methodology in preparing the bills. The different heads, which make up the bills, are cost of labour, cost of quick-lime for white-washing, paint and accessories.

Interestingly, some of the districts have included cost of candles, lanterns and torches for the clean-up exercise, which indicate that in some areas, the whitewashing was done at night time, to avoid interference by political dadas.

Some of the districts have even come up to include the cost of videography in the bills. North Dinajpur has submitted a bill for shooting the entire whitewashing.

The district authorities stress that the cassette would be an authentic documentation to prove that it had actually cleaned-up the walls and is claiming the cost of the work.

The state government is in a fix, for such an exercise had unnecessarily escalated the bill. Moreover, the state government was not expecting that the district administration would involve such unnecessary expenditure on account of whitewashing.