In a bid to stay afloat, cash-strapped Amritsar municipal corporation has not only started tightening its belt by cutting down on unwarranted expenses but is also looking forward to auction its properties lying unused this month to raise much-needed funds.
Sources said that the MC needed at least Rs 100 crore to bail itself out of the prevailing fund crunch. The civic body has begun a survey of all its properties, identifying only two so far, one at Joshi Colony behind the municipal commissioner's residence and the other at Hall Gate.
To begin with, the MC has stopped dealing with files pertaining to petty developmental works entailing expenditure of Rs 50,000. It has also given more financial powers to councillors, who have now been permitted to get developmental works amounting to Rs 11 lakh completed in their respective wards without raising these issues in the MC House meetings.
"Now the councillors need not bring every petty developmental project before the House for approval and have been empowered to undertake these on their own," said mayor Bakshi Ram Arora. He added that they would only be required to bring to the House major projects that are not within the ambit of their financial powers.
Responding to a query about how they would fund the petty developmental projects, the mayor said that the MC was looking forward to auctioning some of its prime properties lying vacant. "To begin with, we plan to auction 1,800-yard property at Joshi Colony behind the residence of the municipal commissioner this month," he said. He maintained that the MC had applied for a loan as well.
Confirming that the MC had so far identified only two properties for auction, municipal commissioner BS Rai said that the auctions of these were likely to earn not more than a few crores of rupees for the civic body. "The MC definitely needs more properties to raise Rs 100 crore. So, efforts are on to identify the ones that are either lying vacant or have been encroached," he said.