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Navjot Sidhu’s Rs 1,000 crore ambition spans four projects

Sidhu is confident of a breakthrough, if given a free hand, but his detractors claim that the figures he quotes are unrealistic

punjab Updated: Nov 01, 2017 20:44 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Navjot Sidhu,Punjab,local bodies department
Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu is working on a set of ambitious plans to generate at least Rs 1,000 crore in the next year or so. Proposals to generate money from outdoor advertising, parking lots, regularisation of properties and reworking fee on mobile towers are in various stages of completion. Sidhu is confident of a breakthrough, if given a free hand, but his detractors claim that the figures he quotes are unrealistic. Here’s a look at the minister’s ambitious plan.

The plan
  • Rs 500-600 crore
  • Reworking of charges on 10,000 mobile towers could yield this amount to the exchequer a year; Sidhu says the number of towers as listed in official record is just a fraction of the actual number on the ground.
  • Rs 100-150 crore
  • The department can mop up to Rs 150 crore a year by imposing a nominal fee to use 100-150 parking lots that are not properly used. This will also help in better regulation of traffic.
  • Rs 250-300 crore
  • Currently, the department just earns Rs 20 a year from outdoor advertising. The department is in consultation with experts to formulate a policy.
  • Regularisation of properties
  • Substantial amount (one-time) can be generated if the prevailing nominal fee is charged from house owners for approving building plans; 80% of properties in civic bodies don’t have approved plans.

Licence fee from mobile towers

Officials with the local bodies department say there are 10,000 mobile towers in the state and the previous Akali-BJP government charged negligible licence fee and rent from them, in comparison to other states. “We are making efforts to rework charges imposed and have taken up the matter with the industries department which currently levies these charges on mobile companies,” said Sidhu.

In case the department does not do it, the local bodies department has the option to work out a policy for towers located in the jurisdiction of civic bodies, binding them to pay charges in line with what they pay in other states.

On the issue, Sidhu said in Chandigarh, annual charges for mobile towers is Rs 1 lakh, with Rs 5 lakh to be paid every few years. He went on to add that he believed that the number of towers as listed in official record was just a fraction of the actual number on the ground.

Parking lots

A local bodies department survey has estimated that there are 100-150 parking lots in the state that have either been allotted to contractors at throwaway prices or are not used properly. Sidhu says the department can mop up to Rs 150 crore a year by imposing a nominal fee in parking lots. This will also help in better regulation of traffic.

Outdoor advertising

“We are coming out with an advertisement policy soon. We are in consultation with experts,” says Sidhu, adding that once the policy is out, revenue will be between Rs 250 and Rs 300 crore annually. Now, the states earns just Rs 20 crore a year. Of this, Rs 12 crore comes from Mohali alone, with Ludhiana contributing just Rs 1.2 crore.

“There are 155 town and cities and 10 municipal corporation cities in the state. There is huge potential for outdoor advertising by national and multinational companies,” he said, quoting example of Haryana which has 82 towns and cities and still earns Rs 250 crore a year.

Regularisation of properties

According to Sidhu, 80% of properties in civic bodies don’t have approved building plans (maps). The department hopes that if the prevailing nominal fee is charged from house owners for approving building plans, it could generate crores of rupees. The department is coming out with the online building plan approval facility and is yet to make an estimate on how much this initiative could earn.

First Published: Nov 01, 2017 20:43 IST