An over-staffed Kotkapura municipal committee, running an annual deficit of around Rs 4 crore only in salaries, is reportedly planning to auction around 8 kanals (around 43,000 square feet or 1 killa or 4,840 square yards) of land on the Sikhan Wala road to generate some capital.
However, the move might not help as its previous three attempts to sell the land did not even touch the reserve price of Rs Rs 19,000 per square yard.
A major reason for the surplus staff is the main source of octroi tax, the oil depots, were shifted to Bathinda 13 years ago, rendering most of the 325 employees redundant, but these have not been adjusted anywhere else nor have they been asked to retrench.
"We have surplus staff, especially in relation to the size of the town and in comparison with other towns," admitted municipal committee executive officer Rachpal Singh Bhullar.
"We had written to the government to adjust the surplus employees after the abolition of the octroi tax by the government. However, no action was taken," claimed Bhushan Mittal, former vice-president of Kotkapura municipal committee.
So, for more than a decade now, the overburdened municipal committee has failed to perform on the development front, due to lack of sources of revenue and its reported political compulsion to employ 325 employees, 185 of whom are sweepers and yet there is no cleanliness on the streets.
More than 85,000 local employees are thus again left to look for development opportunities.
"There is an annual income of Rs 8 crore and salaries are about 12 crore leaving it a deficit of Rs 4 crore. We recently took a loan of around Rs 8 crore from the Amritsar Improvement Trust to deposit provident fund of employees on court instructions. We are very hard-pressed," said a source in the MC.
Sources also claim that Faridkot, which is bigger than Kotkapura has less than 125 employees and Rs 5 crore as annual salary budget.
"More than the required staff was recruited and then was not retrenched due to political reasons," said a local Krishan Singla.
"Streetlights do not function. Roads have been repaired for years and sewage water is spilling on roads. The local bus stand is in a pathetic condition," Singla added.
At 34 octroi posts, there is no work and yet the staff is employed with the municipal committee.
The poor financial health of the committee leads to repeated strikes by Class IV employees, when their salaries are stopped for months.