Pay Rs2,531 crore dues, BMC tells Maharashtra

Thursday, 6 February 2014 - 1:13pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
Although this year’s BMC budget of Rs31,178 crore does not announce new taxes, it focuses on improving education and strengthening health-care facilities. For the first time, it will give financial assistance to cash-strapped BEST.

Taking stock of its every penny as it were, Mumbai’s municipal corporation has asked the state government to clear its outstanding dues. The state government is yet to clear dues worth Rs2,531.02 crore, according to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

The municipality has already got going with the process of recovering its outstanding dues from the state government. The municipality has appointed five officers who will deal with the government to recover the amount.

On Wednesday, the saffron alliance which rules the civic house presented a budget of Rs 31,178.19 crore for the financial year 2014-15 — a surplus of Rs5.77 crore over last year’s.

A statement issued by municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte states that officials have been appointed to regularly follow up on the outstandings with the respective departments in the state government. The state, on its part, has set up its panel to resolve the issue of dues. “I hope BMC would be able to recover its longstanding dues in the near future,” says Kunte’s statement.

The total outstanding of Rs2,531.02 crore is on account of grant-in-aid from the state education department, property tax, water and sewerage charges. A huge chunk of this outstanding amount, Rs1,685.02 crore – that’s almost two-third of the amount – is payable on account of grant-in-aid.

On the other hand, the municipality owes the state government Rs564.36 crore.

With two the general elections and the assembly polls scheduled to held this year, the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party which occupy treasury benches in the civic body, on Wednesday took a dig at the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party ruled state government during the tabling of the civic budget.

Shiv Sena corporator Rahul Shewale, who is also chairman of the civic standing committee, said that the state government is yet to clear the dues for years. ”We have set up a mechanism to get the dues cleared. A mention of the outstandings was required in the budget,” said Shewale.

CR to face the heat
The BMC’s resolve to recover dues from government agencies will hit Central Railway hard. The BMC and CR have had several rounds of talks over CR’s pending water bills, because of which, the BMC has withheld the Occupation Certificate of a plush officers’ residential tower at CR’s Nirmal Park in Byculla.   

Each flat in the 12-storey tower covers 2,000 sqft and the glass facade building itself cost the railways more than Rs15 crore to build.

The bills are itself a matter of dispute with a recent railway assessment putting it between Rs15 crore and Rs20 crore. However, the BMC has pegged it at Rs40 crore. It stems from a 2002 government order that even government agencies like the railways will have to pay the local civic body service tax for water and sewerage facilities.  

While the BMC maintains that these bills will have to be paid with the accruing interest, the railways maintain that being a government agency engaged in essential work, such bills or interest does not apply to them.

— Binoo Nair

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