BENGALURU: The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is so short on funds that it has defaulted on phone, Internet, electricity and water bill payments. Its employees are not getting salaries on time and what is more, its hearses often run, if at all, low on fuel.
P Dayanand, president of the BBMP employees' union, said there are around 10,000 staffers including officers on deputation. "Under the State Finance Commission (SFC), the government pays funds to BBMP once in three to six months for employee salaries and maintenance matters like (paying) phone, electricity and water bills. But the amount released under SFC is being utilised for other purposes, leaving no money for salaries and maintenance. We get salary on any day between the fifth and 30th of the month. The head office staff get it in the first week," he said.
Being an elected representative makes little difference. According to BBMP sources, a monthly honorarium of `7,500 has to be given for councillors and `20,000 for the mayor and deputy mayor. But even they have not been paid for the last five months.
Balan, president of BBMP Contract Pourakarmikas' Association, said in areas like Cox Town and Commercial Street, contract pourakarmikas have not been paid for three to six months. "Garbage contractors blame BBMP for not clearing their bills. How can one work without salary for months together?" he asked.
As the Palike has not paid the dues to BSNL, telephone and Internet services at various BBMP offices have been disconnected. An engineer at a ward office in Vijayanagar told Express that this has affected day-to-day services in the offices and put off the public.
A senior official at the head office said this is not the first time BBMP is facing such a situation. He has purchased an Internet dongle for himself in the office for a monthly rental of around `1,000. "I pay from my pocket because we need Internet services," the official said.
The Forest Department too is facing the heat. "BBMP is now planting seedlings that were approved last year. As it was late to call for tenders last year, we did not plant any saplings," an official told Express.
Saplings need to be tended to properly for at least the first three years. But money has not been released for maintenance of saplings that were planted two years ago. These will probably die due to lack of maintenance, he rued.
A letter written by the Chief Conservator of Forests to the BBMP Commissioner a few weeks ago, a copy of which is available with Express, stated, "There is no sufficient allocation for some essential operations, thereby threatening the very investment made in 2012-13. Also, there is no provision for planting new seedlings."
JD(S) floor leader R Prakash said a person passed away recently in his ward Kaveripura. "When the family members did not get a hearse, they approached me. But when I called the BBMP staffer concerned, he said there was no diesel in the vehicle and the petrol bunk where they used to fill fuel has stopped servicing them as BBMP has not cleared the pending bills," he said.
In the first week of November, Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) had issued a notice to BBMP for not paying the premium on insurance of employees of South, West and East zones. While West zone has not paid since March, East zone hasn't paid since June and South, since August. The money will be deducted from the employees' salaries.