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Coimbatore civic body grapples with funds crunch

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The Hindu         21.09.2017 

Coimbatore civic body grapples with funds crunch

The civic body is desperate for the funds to pay off contractors and meet its maintenance expenses.  

The Corporation yet to get central finance commission funds

The financially weakening civic body has just received a blow - it has not yet received the quarterly disbursement of central finance commission funds for the last quarter of last financial year and the first quarter of the current financial year.

Sources in the civic body said that the disbursement for two quarters was around Rs. 30 crore and this is a big blow as the total outstanding had reportedly crossed Rs. 250 crore.

Officials, however, said the Corporation’s finances were not worse.

Every year, the Central Government paid the Corporation and several other urban local bodies money under the ‘central finance commission’ head. The Corporation had been getting Rs. 60 crore a financial year, in four instalments of Rs. 15 crore each.

This time though the Government did not disburse the money saying it would not do so as there was no elected body - Corporation Council, the sources said that other urban local bodies in the State had suffered a similar fate.

For the Coimbatore Corporation this had come a big blow as the civic body was desperate for the funds to pay off contractors and meet its operation and maintenance expenses. As of September 2017, the total outstanding had crossed Rs. 250 crore, the sources said and added that the civic body owed the contractors who had completed work, manpower contractors who supplied workers, street light maintenance contractors and many others.

The last time the Corporation paid the contractors was sometime in January this year and that too it was a pittance - for contractors to whom it owned in crores of rupees the Corporation paid only a few lakhs, contractors said.

Officials not wanting to be named only confirmed this. They said the situation had turned from bad to worse. They pointed out that the situation was so bad that street light contractors were not repairing faulty lights as the civic body had not paid them for long.

The Corporation recently sacked 300 or so contract conservancy workers. Though the reason proffered was poor work, the truth was that the Corporation did not have money to engage them, the officials added.

Similarly, the Corporation was also yet to clear the dues for agencies that operated upon street dogs under the animal birth control programme. Sources in the know said the the Corporation had requested the agencies to not submit fresh bills until the pending ones were cleared.

The officials also said that even the recent water connection deposit revision and property reassessment exercises would not help the civic body escape the abyss as the money estimated to flow in to the coffers was far less than what was needed.

Senior officials, however, disputed the figures and statements and said the total outstanding was only around Rs. 150 crore. The recent revision exercises, coupled with grants expected from the State Government would help the Corporation. The turn around would happen soon and by the end of this calendar year the Corporation would be returning to good financial health.