No funds for city
The Centre has rejected the BJP-ruled Chandigarh Municipal Corporation’s demand seeking Rs 925 crore to run its affairs. The Finance Ministry did not entertain the request and bluntly told officials to generate their own funds. The civic body had been demanding implementation of the Fourth Delhi Finance Commission, recommendation which said more financial powers should be given to municipal corporations.
No GST for street biz
Around 19,395 shopkeepers in Chandigarh pay GST as they run their businesses in shops. But there are 21,662 street vendors in the city who do not have to pay GST as they peddle their wares on pavements. The vendors do not pay licence fees to the municipal corporation while shop owners have to pay lease money. Corporation’s attempts to impose taxes on these vendors are stonewalled by elected councillors.
20 green buses to ply across the city
Like Delhi and other north Indian cities, rising pollution has been a concern in Chandigarh also. The UT administration has decided to buy 20 electric buses at a total cost of `32 crore. Each bus will cost `1.5 crore, while a similar AC diesel bus costs `25 lakh. These buses are being bought under a Centrally sponsored scheme, wherein 60 per cent of the cost will be borne by Union Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises. Each bus will have a seating capacity of 26 and standing space for nine passengers. Apart from reducing emissions, the electric bus will also cut the running cost — `5 per km compared to `18 per km that a diesel bus costs.
De-congestion bid runs into rough weather
The Chandigarh Administration’s grand plan to decongest the city has run into rough weather. Not only the residents and traders, but also the political parties and other organisations have fiercely opposed the draft proposal hiking parking fee and road tax. Stiff opposition comes from municipal councillors who fear lose of their vote bank. The draft proposal suggests imposing congestion tax in Sectors 17, 35 and 22 and several other markets with high vehicle density. If one buys a second car costing `10 lakh or above, the registration charge will be 50 per cent of its price. The draft proposal also says vehicle owners will have to show certificates of parking availability at the time of registration.
The class divide in Chandigarh came to the fore yet again when the municipal corporation received complaints of non-functional street lights. Of the total 3,752 complaints, only 164 were from northern sectors (Sector 1 to 10). The rest were received from the southern sectors of the city. Most of the other complaints about absence of basic amenities, such as potholed roads, erratic water supply, non-functional streetlights etc., are usually received from these parts of the city. No prizes for guessing that the northern sectors the VIP areas where chief ministers, ministers, bureaucrats, top police officers and the rich and powerful live whereas the bulk of the pollution lives in the southern sectors.
Our correspondent in Chandigarh firstname.lastname@example.org