WITH THE State Government apparently determined to bid a farewell to alms, civic officials are increasingly relying on fiscal assistance from the Centre to bankroll development tasks.
Which is fine, except that funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and other Central schemes are provided for new projects. For the repair and rejuvenation of existing ones the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) has to fall back on money provided by Bhopal in the form of octroi compensation and grants.
And thereby hangs a tale. While the IMC is set for a Central windfall – JNNURM brass have okayed a Rs 325 crore scheme for rebuilding the sewage network from scratch and a further Rs 41 crore for phase-II of the Bond Road - the State hasn’t come through on payments.
Which, in turn, means that even as it goes about implementing mammoth multi-crore projects, the Corporation lacks the loose change needed to maintain existing roads, drainage lines and sewerage mains.
“The government provides around Rs 2.5 crore annually to carry out post-monsoon road repair work. However, this year the money has not been given,” admitted an IMC Public Works engineer.
Though Mayor Uma Shashi Sharma made several trips to Bhopal to lobby for government funds to the cash-strapped Corporation, she not only drew a blank but also was made to cool her heels for over 12 hours before finally being granted an audience with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Coupled with the cut in octroi compensation - Rs 4.5 crore of the total figure of the Rs 5.5 crore due was forwarded to the MPSEB to cover the Corporation’s electricity dues - the government’s tightfistedness has hit the civic body hard.
With no money forthcoming from the capital, civic bosses could not clear the dues of contractors as promised who, in turn, refused to carry out road repairs until they were paid the Rs 30-odd crore that the IMC owed them.
In fact the cash crunch became so severe last month that the Corporation was forced to cash several fixed deposits (FDs) to raise the roughly Rs 3 crore it disburses in salaries every month.
If the government is tardy about providing money for maintaining civic infrastructure it is more so for funding applications for new projects. “The government is sitting on slum development projects amounting to over Rs 40 crore even though these were submitted to the Joint Director, Urban Administration Development, months ago,” revealed Municipal Commissioner Vinod Sharma.