Local bodies in the district owe Rs 2.5 crore as cess to the Central Library in the last six years. After several futile attempts to collect the money, the Library Department now plans to book a criminal case against the bodies.
A total of 156 gram panchayats (GP) and municipalities have been listed as defaulters. Of these, GPs owe cess up to Rs 1.5 crore while Rs one crore is to be returned by the municipalities.
The Library Department has already sent them show-cause notices.
The Central Library managed to collect less than Rs five lakh in 2012-13.
“The Library is invariably dependent on six per cent of the public revenue collected by the local bodies for funds to purchase books and newspapers and for maintenance. We are unable to pay cleaning workers here,” complained chief librarian H R Chennakeshava.
In a conversation with Deccan Herald, he said the Library had followed the orders of the Library Department and written to the GPs and municipalities several times demanding payment of cess.
“The deputy commissioner, who is also the president of the Library Authority, too, was informed of the desperate situation of the Library. None of this, however, improved our condition.”
The matter of filing a criminal case against the local bodies that owe cess to the Library was discussed with the District and Sessions judge.
“In concurrence with the Deputy Commissioner D S Vishwanath’s suggestion to give the local bodies another chance, instead of a sudden strike with a criminal case, the judge told us to send them all show-cause notices,” said Chennakeshava.
“Many local bodies are unaware that payment of cess is one of their major responsibilities.
Worse, some of them have even asked us why we are demanding the payment ‘out of the blue’, when nobody has asked for it so far. The deputy commissioner was requested to deal with such matters seriously,” he explained.
Chennakeshava said, “Whenever the matter is brought up during meetings chaired by the DC and the Authority president, the officers repeatedly give reasons that their local bodies themselves are under loss, without enough funds for other important, development work.
There was also a meeting last year with the director of the Municipal Administration Department to discuss collection of cess. He was also requested to instruct the local bodies to pay the cess.”
No work of the Library can be continued without the payment of cess by the local bodies, he said.