Patiala mayor has a fiscal cliff to climb | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Patiala mayor has a fiscal cliff to climb

punjab Updated: Apr 15, 2013 00:02 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva

He is busy celebrating his elevation to the post of mayor at the age of just 34, but a tough road lies ahead for Amarinder Bajaj with the Patiala municipal corporation is not having money to pay salaries to its employees, leave aside taking up development works.

With a combined debt of more than Rs 100 crore pending against the civic body, which has the total annual budget of Rs 140 crore, the corporation was reeling under heavy financial burden and the installments have not been paid for the past few months.

On the other hand, the civic body was still to collect more than Rs 10 crore in form of house tax for 2012-13. Notably, money collected from house tax is the only source of income with which the civic body has to run its affairs throughout the year, besides the share of VAT that it gets from the state government.

Major loans taken by the civic body include Rs 23 crore from Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) for carrying out sewerage works, Rs 25 crore from Patiala Improvement Trust, Rs 14 crore for building roads where sewerage has been laid recently, Rs 10 crore from Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) besides other debts.

Some senior officials in the corporation said the only option left to deal with the financial crisis was the sale of land available with the civic body.

Though the MC, in its annual budget, had planned to sell the land to the tune of Rs 40 crore, the process is stuck in the files of the civic body due to several factors.

On the other hand, the development works in the city have completely come to a halt in the absence of money in the MC's kitty.

In summers, the civic body was scheduled to lay bitumen on the most of the city roads, which have been damaged but because of paucity of funds the work has not been taken up.

Till now, new mayor Amaninder Bajaj, who was elected to the post on April 4, has not come out with a strategy to deal with the problems the city is facing. He had made a low-profile start and had taken charge on April 11.

Bajaj, when contacted, said he has started persuading the state government to sanction few development projects for the city.

"Since the Patiala municipal corporation is having few sources of income with little industry and other factors, we do not have many options. We hope to collect good money once the property tax is introduced," he said.