IN ANOTHER setback for the cash-starved civic body, State Finance Minister Raghavji today publicly spurned pleas for hiking octroi compensation awarded to Indore.
The veto came after MLA Mahendra Hardia urged the Minister to increase the City’s compensation share so as to make it commensurate with revenue earnings. The additional income could go towards providing much needed cash for developmental works, Hardia pointed out.
Raghavji flatly turned down the request and advised the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) to utilise ‘large sums being received from “JNUM”. He, however, assured that the government would extend ‘all possible fiscal help’ to the civic body when necessary.
The remarks came during a speech after the Minister dedicated a garden at Aggarwal Nagar to the public on Thursday. Mayor Dr Uma Shashi Sharma, Mayor-in-Council members and senior IMC officers were among those present.
Talking to this reporter on the programme sidelines, the Minister reiterated that there was no chance of a hike in the City’s octroi compensation share. The State Government allocates a fixed sum to civic bodies to make up for revenue losses incurred. “There is an incremental raise of 10 per cent each year and that is sufficient,” said Raghavji.
He, however, offered no comment when reminded that nearly half of Indore’s share was credited directly to MPSEB by the government to repay an Rs 500 crore loan for the second phase of Narmada project.
Earlier, the Finance Minister claimed the State had undergone a complete metamorphosis during his party’s two-and-a-half year tenure. Crores of rupees had been poured into building roads and sprucing up civic and health infrastructure, he added.
“The BJP has changed the taqdeer (fate) and the tasveer (face) of the State. When we came to power the State debt stood at Rs 35,000 crore. The coffers were empty, there wasn’t enough money even to pay salaries,” he declared.
Adept stewardship, however, helped bring about a fiscal turnaround. “Contractors who shied away during the Congress regime are now queuing up for work orders because they are assured of payments,” claimed the Minister.
Lavishing praise on the Corporation’s 100-garden programme, the Finance Minister said development of attractive parks was the first step towards a beautiful City. “Development of open green spaces is imperative if Indore is to be at par with cities like Bangalore, Delhi and Bhopal,” asserted Raghavji.
Earlier, Hardia made a forceful case for augmenting octroi payments to the IMC. “Although Indore garners the maximum revenue other cities get more money,” lamented the Assembly constituency No 5 MLA. Hardia also announced that he would donate money from his Local Area Development (LAD) fund to dig borewells for watering the two gardens at Aggarwal Nagar.
MiC member Sapna Chauhan, local corporator Anil Bindal and IMC Garden Officer A U Khan were among those who attended the ceremony. Mayor-in-Council member in-charge of Public Works Lalit Porwal, just back from Canada, proposed the vote of thanks.