From cutting down on the officials’ fuel and telephone allowances to introducing fee for putting hedges outside one’s house, from introducing entry fee for the city’s big gardens to not organising Rose festival and Chrysanthemum show this year, Chandigarh Municipal Corporation has come up with several suggestions to cut down expenses, as part of discussions in the revenue generation plan.
Officials said that the departments have been directed to submit proposals for slashing expenditure as the civic body is facing a financial crisis.
Horticulture department has put forth the idea of introducing fee for putting up hedges, for which the house owners seek license, to beautify their area. “Rs 25 per 100 sq feet area has been proposed as fee. At present, one just needs a license to put hedges on the Municipal land and is free of cost. Thus, there is a suggestion to introduce fee-based permission. Imposition of entry fee for big gardens like Rose Garden, Fragrance Garden, Shivalik gardens etc, has been suggested.”
The proposed entry fee ranges between Rs 10 and Rs 20. However, officials clarified that the suggested entry fee will not be imposed on city’s neighbourhood parks, but it will be imposed only on major gardens, where people go only for leisure.
The department also suggested that on account of Covid-19 pandemic, Rose Festival and Chrysanthemum show may not be held this year. The proposal added that besides avoiding the potential spread of the disease by cancelling the event this year, the civic body will also save about Rs 1 crore. “Chrysanthemum show is held in December every year and by November most of the arrangements are done. It will not be wise if we announce in November that the show cannot be held as a precautionary measure due to Covid-19. The same applies for Rose festival, which is held in February, but arrangements are made from before. This way about Rs 1 crore spent on both festivals together will also be saved,” an official said.
As far as expenditure on officials’ fuel is concerned, sources said that there is a proposal to cut down at least 20 per cent fuel allowed to the officials. Some officials are allowed to use 220 litre of fuel a month, while many including the councilors are permitted more than this. A committee constituted to identify revenue generation plans had recently suggested to cut down on all establishment expenses.
Opposition by FOSWAC
FOSWAC opposed the proposal to levy entry fee in big gardens as suggested by the civic body. “The recent proposal to levy entry fee in the parks is ill-conceived and highly deplorable. Residents are not happy with this kind of sweeping increase in taxes everywhere. We are already paying house tax, increased levy of tax on water and electricity bills and parking fee in all parking lots, besides this proposal,” JS Gogia, General Secretary said.
He further said, “It is not out of the way to mention that the services we are getting from MC Chandigarh have deteriorated to the denigrated levels. The roads which used to be re-carpeted after five years, now stand nowhere even after 10 years, the gullies were not cleaned before the monsoon, 24-hour water supply still remains a distant dream. The maintenance of parks and green belts is poor.”
In a statement issued regarding the proposal, FOSWAC said: “If MC Chandigarh is unable to manage, then there is no need of having it. It should be scrapped and the UT Administration should handle the work as it had been, prior to the formation of MC.”
SUGGESTED GREEN TAX
The committee constituted to identify revenue generation plans had proposed levying of green tax on commercial vehicles of other states that enter the UT. It had also suggested that possibilities be explored to allow petrol limit instead of providing separate vehicles to the MC officials, excluding senior officers in the corporation, to avoid the expenditure of maintenance and services of the vehicles.
Regarding revenue generation policies, the committee had decided to review rates and policy on cable /optical fiber. It had also suggested that charges be fixed for cables crossing through trees, road berms and MC land.
It had decided that the maintenance policy of public services, including open air gyms, will be reviewed to curtail any excess expenditure.
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