Fund starved Chandigarh MC sitting tight on vacant properties, arrear recovery
Facing a deficit of Rs 16 crore in current fiscal’s budget, MC has failed to sell properties worth more than Rs 208 crore and also not recovered arrears worth Rs 9.2 crore against over 1,000 properties allotted on freehold, leasehold and monthly rent basis.Updated: Aug 12, 2020 23:06 IST
Trying to rise above its financial crisis, the municipal corporation is planning fresh taxes and user charges on city residents even as its commercial properties worth more than Rs 208 crore are lying vacant and unsold.
Besides losing out on this major chunk of revenue, the civic body also has not recovered arrears worth more than Rs 9.2 crore against its over 1,000 properties allotted on freehold, leasehold and monthly rent basis.
This, when the corporation is facing a deficit of Rs 16 crore in its budget. Against its total committed liabilities of Rs 597 crore, MC has only ₹581 crore, which comprises projected revenue receipts of just Rs 241 crore, while the remaining funds will come through grants.
The figures of revenue loss against MC’s properties form a part of a report submitted by various MC departments to a civic body panel set up to suggest ways to improve its financial condition, which has worsened amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
To explore ways to augment its revenues and curtail expenditure, mayor Raj Bala Malik had constituted a committee comprising councillors and MC officials.
The panel had further asked MC departments to submit reports detailing their current financial position, steps taken to improve it and recommendations.
200 SITES UNSOLD
The MC estate branch in its report states that over 200 commercial properties under its purview are lying vacant. Several attempts to auction these properties had failed to bear fruit.
For instance, it tried to sell off 105 booths at Mauli Jagran six times, but failed. Similarly, a 24-acre site for a specialty hospital with a reserve price of Rs 81 crore was offered twice for sale, but found no takers.
As many as 51 commercial sites in Sector 17 are also lying vacant as two auctions went in vain.
MC officials blame the mess on UT administration’s reluctance to allow sale of these properties on freehold basis. “Freehold properties will find more takers. But the administration is adamant,” said a senior MC official, wishing not to be named.
“Besides, several arrear cases are in court. The reports will be studied to find a way out,” the official added.
Criticising the incumbent BJP-led MC, Congress councillor and leader of opposition Devinder Singh Babla said, “It is a total failure of the municipal corporation. While the civic body keeps burdening the common man with new taxes, it is unable to raise funds through a large pool of its commercial properties.”
“Worse, properties are available on freehold all over the city, but the administration is not allowing the same for MC properties. Leasehold properties will not elicit any interest in the market,” he added.