BBMP struggles to pay service providers

BBMP struggles to pay service providers

With contractors and civic workers threatening to go on strike almost daily, the financial indiscipline at the civic major has come in for severe criticism

After presenting a budget with an outlay of Rs 10,000 crore and claiming to have sufficient funds, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is struggling to clear payments to the tune of Rs 1,600 crore to various service providers. 

With contractors and civic workers threatening to go on strike almost daily, the financial indiscipline at the civic major has come in for severe criticism. According to sources in the corporation, the BBMP owes Rs 1,600 crore to various contractors who executed works like maintenance of street lights, de-silting of storm water drains, road repair, wages to civic workers besides various infrastructural work at ward level. 

BBMP commissioner N Maheshwara Rao said, “We owe about Rs 1,600 crore and these pending bills will be cleared soon.” However, top BBMP officials defended the financial indiscipline. Manoj Rajan, special commissioner, BBMP, attributed delayed payments to various reasons. “In the case of street lights, payments are being made to contractors on seniority basis. Now that it will be included under essential services, this problem would not repeat and payments will be faster.” 

Hundreds of civic workers have been protesting non-payment of wages since five months in various wards. However, in this case, the delay is because of the verification process which was taken up after introducing biometric system for workers in February. “It is for the first time that we are introducing the biometrics, and the verification process to check for any ghost workers took a long time,” a senior officer said.

K Prakash Babu, treasurer, BBMP Working Contractor’s Association, said Rs 1,500 crore is to be paid to contractors. “We undertake programme-of-works (POW) that include storm water drain, maintenance of road. We have not been paid for one and a half years,” said Babu.

“The SWD work is almost done. But the contractors have boycotted work until payment is made. The case is especially bad at HSR Layout in Bommanahalli zone, where there was heavy flooding last year,” he said.

The BBMP hopes to set things right soon as it hopes to meet its property tax target this time. “We have already reached 75% of the target this year,” said Maheshwar Rao.

S Subramanya, former BBMP commissioner said, “the BBMP follows a clear principle called first in, first out. The payments are being made on priority basis and except for the last eight-nine months, they have made all other payments. They can even meet their property tax collection target this year.”

Meanwhile, Padmanabha Reddy, opposition party leader, BBMP said, “the government is misusing money and power. They have spent more in Congress-ruled wards, so they do not have enough money to make payments here.”