Hoteliers in the twin industrial township of Pimpri-Chinchwad owe the civic body around Rs 14 lakh as waste collection charges,which they havent paid in the last three years. This has come to light after a Right to Information (RTI) query was filed by a political leader. Now,civic employees and officials are in the dock as they face action for not collecting the charges. The officials may even have to cough up the amount from their own pockets.
Raju Savle,who heads the environment cell of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS),had filed the RTI query. Demanding action against negligent officials,Savle said the issue must be investigated as it might point to a bigger racket. The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) officials and hoteliers could be hand-in-glove. Otherwise,this kind of negligence is not possible, he said.
The PCMC,on the other hand,seems to have woken up after the query was filed. It has promised immediate action against hoteliers who have failed to pay the charges. Senior civic officials said they would also take action against employees or officials who had failed to collect money from hoteliers. The matter will be investigated and appropriate action taken, said Joint Municipal Commissioner Amrut Sawant. We might even collect the pending dues from our own officials, he said.
Now that these facts have come to light,we will start a drive to collect the charges. I have already issued necessary instructions to the officials to get on with the job, he said.
Savle said according to the RTI reply,the PCMC deployed a separate team and as many as eight vehicles to collect waste from small,medium and big hotels. The civic bodys charges range from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000 for the services depending on the grade of hotels.
The PCMC spends nearly Rs 47 lakh every year merely on disposing of hotel waste. According to the civic bodys records,there are 338 defaulting hotels in Divisional Ward A. It spent Rs 13 lakh for collecting hotel waste in the last three years,while the hotels collectively paid Rs 5 lakh only. The pending dues are close to Rs 5 lakh. Similarly in B ward,hoteliers owe PCMC Rs 6 lakh,in C ward,Rs 2 lakh and in D ward,Rs 1.72 lakh.
Civic activists said thanks to RTI,they got to know of the scenario for the last three years. But what about the years before this period? PCMC came into being in 1982. All these years,officials have been in cahoots with hoteliers,who provide them free lunches, said RTI activist Sachin Godambe.