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Amritsar municipal corporation: Problems aplenty, fund crunch adds to miseries

As per the data assessed by HT, the burden of liabilities on the MC is Rs 75 crore approximately, which is increasing day by day.

punjab Updated: Jan 29, 2018 09:41 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Amritsar municipal corporation,fund crunch,Amritsar
The Bhagatanwala garbage dump continues to be an eyesore for the residents. (HT Photo)

As newly elected members of Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) have taken the oath of office, residents of the holy city have high hopes from them.

SANITATION AMONG MAJOR CIVIC PROBLEMS
  • Owing to poor sanitation system, heaps of garbage and littering is common sight in the city.
  • The Bhagatanwala garbage dump continues to be an eyesore for the residents, causing health hazards and pollution.
  • Streets in the walled city, barring the Heritage Street, are in poor shape with plenty of potholes.
  • Improper sewerage system is another civic problem here as it is commonly seen overflowing. As the walled city area is very congested, the sewerage problem adds to the woes of residents.
  • The stray dogs menace does not spare even posh areas and the residents are afraid of even going for a walk in many areas.
  • The residents face a lot of inconvenience due to traffic jams, which have become a routine affair nowadays.
  • Old buildings in the walled city are posing high risk to human life. The fire brigade personnel have tough time when a fire breaks out in the city.

However, it would not be easy job for the new office-bearers to manage the MC affairs as the list of the issues and problems the residents face is very long, but the funds at its disposal are very short.

The SAD-BJP alliance ruled over the civic body for 10 years, but failed to shore up its financial condition. The state of the civic amenities could not be improved much. Now when the Congress has taken over the reins, it has bigger challenges ahead.

The civic body has been facing a serious financial crisis for the past few years. The revenue is insufficient to run the day-to-day expenses, say officials.

As per the data assessed by HT, the burden of liabilities on the MC is Rs 75 crore approximately, which is increasing day by day.

The main source of the civic body’s income is the installment from the state share of VAT. The MC receives an average of Rs 10 crore monthly from VAT collection. However, this amount is not sufficient to pay even the salaries of its employees, which add up to Rs 14.5 crore.

ONGOING/PENDING PROJECTS
  • Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY)
  • Smart city, registration and sterilisation of stray dogs, registration of street vendors, tree plantation drive to make the city green
  • Solid waste management project, streetlight project and beautification and development under the National Urban Mission

Even the ex-councillors had also got salaries after a long delay. “I got my last salary after a delay of 4 months”, said ex-councillor Surinder Singh Sultanwind.

Most of the departments failed to meet the recovery targets of taxes, including property tax and water supply bills, thereby making low contribution in generation of revenues.

As a result, liabilities have shored up like never before.

The poor financial condition of the MC has been a major hurdle in the way of many projects. Time and again, MC officials have made it clear that their expenditure far exceeds their income and that there is little or no funding from the government.

“Ample funding through central programmes can help the civic body to accommodate global aspirations of the holy city,” said Gunbir Singh, social activist and environmentalist.

First Published: Jan 29, 2018 09:39 IST