BJP to join protest of pensioners, contractors

BJP to join protest of pensioners, contractors

The Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC), which is under serious financial crisis mainly due to pending pension grants, is already facing the wrath of its pensioners for not yet paying the pension amount this month, and on Thursday (December 14), the HDMC's ruling party BJP would also join the protest, asking the government the release of pending pension grants to the HDMC, while civil contractors have also decided begin a strike seeking the payment of pending bills.

The protest by HDMC Retired Employees' Welfare Committee members, who are seeking immediate release of their monthly pension amount, completed its third day on Wednesday. Meanwhile, BJP corporators have decided to join the protest, and to stage a dharna in front of MLA Prasad Abbayya's office on Thursday, seeking steps to make the State Government release Rs 120 crore pending pension grants to the HDMC. HDMC Contractors' Association has also planned an indefinite protest from December 18, seeking the release of Rs 20 crore bill about.

Since 2014-15, the HDMC is not receiving pension grants from the government, and is using its general fund to pay pension to retired employees. This has posed a financial crunch for the civic body to take up development works and to settle the bills of contractors for the works done, officials admit.

The issue has come for discussion before people's representatives several times, protests were staged, and at one point of time, even the HDMC general body decided to approach the court. Now, the BJP has decided to intensify the protest once again, seeking the release of pending grants before the model code of conduct for Assembly elections comes into force.

'No money for fuel'

"At present, the HDMC has not even Rs one lakh in its general fund account. Contractors' bills are pending, and monthly pension amount is not yet paid. Development works have come to a standstill due to funds crunch, even petrol pumps are not ready to give fuel for HDMC vehicles as over Rs 10 lakh bills are pending, and the HDMC is not in a position to fill fuel to all its vehicles," Corporator Veeranna Savadi said.

After salary and pension accounts were made separate, officials did not claim pension amount for 2014-15, and since then, the government is not releasing pension grants to the HDMC. So far, general fund is used to pay the pension amount, which resulted in financial crisis. Chief minister and urban development minister have not fulfilled their assurance to release the pension grants from June immediately, and to provide the previous amount in the form of special grants, he lamented.

Speaking to media persons here on Wednesday, Mr Savadi stated that the HDMC is in do or die situation now, and the pending pension grants have to be released before the election code of conduct comes into force. "We have kept the option to approach the court open, but as the court proceedings takes time, we would once again urge the government to release funds immediately," he noted.

From 2014 to November this year, the pending pension grants is little more than Rs 120 crore. Even after repeated requests and protests, the government has not yet fulfilled its promise. Now, we would ask MLA Prasad Abbayya and MLC Shrinivas Mane on whether this can be done in two months or not. Joining hands with agitating pensioners and contractors, we would stage protest in front of MLA Prasad Abbaya's office, seeking a clear promise, Mr Savadi added.

Leader of House in the HDMC Mallikarjun Horakeri, Corporator Sudhir Saraf, and others were present.

Pensioners, contractors

Meanwhile, HDMC Retired Employees' Welfare Committee members continued their protest for the third day on Wednesday, seeking immediate release of their monthly pension amount. They also raised slogans against HDMC officials and the mayor.

"Payment of pension amount is being delayed since last couple of months, and it is not yet paid this month," committee president Shrishailappa Shettar said.

HDMC Contractors' Association has noted that more than Rs 20 crore bills for civil works are not paid, and even policy amount is also not paid in last couple of months. An indefinite strike by stopping the works would be launched on December 18, and a protest would be staged on Thursday also, the association office-bearers added.

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