The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) took the now-discarded decision to pawn the historic Sir Puttanna Chetty Town Hall despite having failed to get back any of the 11 properties it had put up as collateral for earlier loans.
In 2008, according to sources, financial difficulties forced the Palike to pawn and lease various properties.
Some of the properties pawned over the years include the Public Utility Building, K R Market, the markets in Malleswaram, Jayanagar 4th Block, Kalasipalya, and Rajajinagar, Dasappa Hospital (near Town Hall), Kempegowda Museum (near Mayo Hall), Western Rangers’ Building and Tannery Road slaughterhouse. In addition, the BBMP had leased as many as 394 of its properties in different zones to various individuals and firms, sources added.
After Chief Minister Siddaramaiah directed the BBMP to keep off Town Hall, the civic agency set its eyes on the historic Russell Market, Johnson Market and the multi-level parking complex on J C Road and planned to pledge them to Canara Bank.
But Mayor B S Satyanarayana said the plan would not move without a go-ahead by the government. The BBMP Council decided to this effect on Friday.
Meanwhile, former Mayor D Venkatesh Murthy said the Palike’s financial difficulties were the result of unplanned works carried out by newly elected MLAs in their respective constituencies during 2008-10.
Sources of revenue
“Those projects were not mentioned in the budget, and the BBMP did not frame the project costs, hence the debts,” he told Deccan Herald. “The Palike can bounce back if the expected revenue from the Sakrama Act (the Karnataka Land Revenue (Second) Amendment Act, 2012) comes in. It should also regularly collect the property tax and the tax from companies that lay the Optical Fibre Cables (OFCs).”
Palike sources, however, said that the government should bail out the civic agency. “The chief minister earlier announced to give the Palike Rs 1,000 crore but so far we have received only Rs 300 crore,” a BBMP official said.
Meanwhile, to make itself financially stable, the Palike is considering inviting corporate houses, NGOs and like-minded people to maintain parks, schools, colleges, footpaths and roads on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.
The mayor said the proposal would be discussed at a meeting to be chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah later this month.
Besides, the BBMP is planning to introduce automated car parking system at its head office and in Gandhinagar. It has also planned to build about 40 bus shelters and 100 toilets in the coming days.