As polls draw near and over 6,000 BMC staffers have been put on election duty, crucial departments of the civic body will be unable to meet targets.
The major money spinner for the BMC, the property tax department, has admitted that it would be unable to garner the target of Rs 4,400 crore. The department is facing a shortfall of Rs 1,400 crore in property tax collection as more than 350 department officials of the total 670 have been put on election duty.
“Almost all officials from the Assessment & Collection department (A&C) have been sent for election duty. While our target for March-end is Rs 4,400 crore, it will be difficult to meet it as most of the officials including inspectors and clerks who process the property tax collections cannot cope with both election and BMC duty,” said T C Parakhi, Assessor & Collector.
As per data, 230 of the 375 tax inspectors and 120 of the 288 clerks in the octroi and property tax departments have been assigned election duty.
Ramesh Bamble, chief engineer of the hydraulics department, has sent a request to the state government to relieve the 250-odd water department officials from election duty.
“Almost all water department officials at local wards have been assigned election duty. It will be difficult to handle pipe bursts or leakages,” said Bamble.
The 6,000-odd staffers on election duty are expected to report to the election commission and are responsible for the work of preparing the electoral rolls and distributing photo ID cards of the voters. Around 75,000 government staff have been roped for election
duty at the 10,500 polling booths across the city.
For the past six months, the BMC has been writing to the state election department, requesting exemption from providing its staff for auxillary work, claiming that this diverts them from performing their primary duties of providing basic civic services for citizens.
Meanwhile, the BMC has also demanded compensation for its rented vehicles and properties from the state election department. Citing the Representation of the People Act of 1950 and 1951, the civic administration has approached the chief electoral officer seeking compensation for the expenditure incurred by the civic body during election duty.
As section 61 of the the RP Act states that compensation must be given to the civic body, in lieu of the services and assets provided to the government, BMC has demanded the same with regard to previous elections.