The Ludhiana municipal corporation (MC) owes Rs 66 crore to the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) till 2007-08, says an audit report obtained by the Council of RTI Activist, Ludhiana, in a reply to a query filed under the Right to Information Act.
The reply, a copy of which is also available with Hindustan Times, further says that after 2008-09 the amount pending with the MC is not known.
It reveals that from 1973-74 to 2007-08, the corporation has not paid even a single penny to the LIT in violation to the Punjab Town Improvement Act 1922 - entails municipal corporations and municipal committees across Punjab to pay 2% of their yearly income to the improvement trusts under their jurisdiction.
According to well placed sources with the MC, as the amount was not paid annually to the trust, as per provision, it piled up gradually, and if the audit further audit is done (after 2008-09 to till date), it will be much more that Rs 66 crore.
If we consider interest on the pending Rs 66 crore, it would cross the triple figure, sources added.
Interestingly, Ludhiana MC commissioner RK Verma, also the chairman of the LIT, has been remain unsuccessful in solving the issue.
According to the Act, municipal corporations and committees have to pay the 2% amount to 28 trusts across the state so that they could have a regular income base for their expenses. However, on the contrary, the trusts have not received, so far, even a single penny from corporations and committees, under whose jurisdiction they were functioning.
Ripan Kakkar, accounts head of the LIT, said: “The Act makes the local bodies to pay an amount of 2% of their actual yearly income to the trusts to meet its expenses. However, not even a single corporation or committee in the state has given this amount to any of the improvement trusts.”
He further said following their formation, trusts had started generating their own income by way of selling plots, shops, etc.
However, Ashok Kumar Gupta, secretary, local government, said he would look into the matter. “I do not have records with me at present, but I will look into the matter,” he said.
In the meantime, a senior MC official said as the corporations across the state were facing financial crunch, they were not in a position to pay even the 2% to the trusts. “Besides, the MC has not received any direction from any authority to make payment to the trust,” the official said.
The matter came to light following an RTI application filed in the Ludhiana municipal corporation by the Council of RTI Activist, wherein secretary of the council Arvind Sharma sought information about the amount paid to the LIT by MC.