THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The City Corporation’s reluctance to scrap the agreement with the private agency which runs the modern crematorium at Thycaud has been burning a hole in its pockets for the last four years. The Local Fund Audit report of the Corporation for the year 2009-10 puts the loss at an estimated Rs 8.64 lakh per year. Interestingly, it is the absence of the post of a ‘furnace operator’ in the Corporation that has been causing the leak.
It was from a Chennai-based company that the Corporation had bought two furnaces used in the crematorium at a cost of Rs 1 crore. As per the agreement made for the year 2007-08, running one furnace costs the Corporation Rs 30,000.
The terms laid out by the company had said that one furnace would be operated, while the second one would be kept in reserve. But this was amended by the Council later and it was decided to run both the furnaces at the same time, doubling the cost. According to the agreement, the company was to give training to Corporation employees from February 2008. However, training was given to only one employee who was employed through the Employment Exchange. But the person, on his contract period ending, left after a few months.
Finally, the Corporation Secretary ordered that two persons be given training and absorbed on a daily wage basis. Though this is being done, the Corporation is yet to scrap the agreement and relieve the company.
"Since we do not have the post of a furnace operator, it is not possible to close the agreement. Every six months, we appoint new employees, who receive the training, but leave soon after,’’ said Deputy Mayor G Happykumar. Corporation officials said that a recommendation has been made to the government to approve of the post-creation to solve the problem.
Meanwhile, the running rate of a single furnace was hiked to Rs 36,000 a month, putting the burden at Rs 8.64 lakh per year. This is apart from the daily wages given to the furnace operators and Kudumbashree women who work there. In addition to this, the Corporation has to shell out around Rs 2.5-3 lakh as electricity bill per month and the water charges.
The Local Fund Audit report, completed in December 2011 and now before the Corporation for further action, says that the Corporation must stick to the original agreement made with the Chennai company and end the business with it, so as to plug the holes in its coffers.