Thursday, February 16, 2012

Old City eats up chunk of civic budget, delivers little

HYDERABAD: With revenue dismally low and expenditure high, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation's south zone, which includes the entire Old City, is turning out to be a white elephant for the civic body.

The south zone, which covers Circle 4, 5 and Rajendranagar, is at the bottom among the five zones of the twin cities in terms of revenue generation, while it is second only to Central Zone in expenditure, especially operation and maintenance works in the city.

Corporators from other parts of the city often complain that more works were being given to the Old City despite the low revenue coming to the corporation kitty from here. On several occasions, including standing committee meetings, corporators had demanded works be allotted based on revenue like property tax payments.

GHMC officials claim they have been making efforts to increase revenue from the South Zone, but could not achieve their targets, especially in collecting property tax and trade licences. Despite low revenue, the elected representatives of the Old City have been managing to get lion's share in works. Now with the new mayor being from the Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen ( MIM), whose writ runs in the Old City, the share is only going to get bigger, corporators from the other zones fear.

Of nearly Rs 1,200 crore works executed in the city, works worth Rs 500 crore were taken up in the South Zone alone during the current fiscal (2011-12). Officials claim corporators from the South Zone are proactive in getting works sanctioned.

Sources said of the total revenue receipts estimated at Rs 2,193 crore for 2012-13, revenue earning from the south zone has been pegged at just Rs 73.20 crore while Central Zone, which covers upmarket areas like Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills, Punjagutta, Ameerpet, Khairtabad and Abids, revenue earnings has been pegged at Rs 308 crore. East Zone (L B Nagar, Kapra and Uppal circles) is likely to contribute Rs 108 crore, West Zone (Serilingampally, Qutubullapur and Kukatpally circles) Rs 173 crore and North Zone (Secunderabad, Alwal and Malkajgiri) Rs 120 crore.

The corporation's revenue mainly comes from property tax and the rest from vacant land tax, advertisement tax, rentals from markets, shopping complexes, building permissions, betterment charges, garbage collection charges, user charges and other sale and hire charges.

The South Zone's contribution is the lowest among the zones. As on Monday, the GHMC has collected Rs 429 crore property tax dues in the city. However, it collected just Rs 24.95 crore from the South Zone against the demand of Rs 135 crore. Central Zone stands first in terms of revenue collection, Rs 193 crore against demand of Rs 515 crore. During the last financial year (2010-11), South Zone property tax collection was only Rs 36.35 crore, the lowest when compared to other zones. Central zone had collected Rs 237 crore property tax dues last year.

"Whenever officials go to attach a property whose owner has defaulted in payments, local elected representatives prevent GHMC staff from carrying out their work, resulting in low collections in property tax, trade licences and other revenue receipts," an official of the south zone said.

With regard to revenue expenditure, the GHMC spends Rs 1,317 crore on operations and maintenance, administrative expenses, interest and finance charges. The South Zone's expenditure is Rs 163 crore, while Central Zone spends Rs 289 crore, North Zone Rs 179 crore, East Zone Rs 118 crore and West Zone Rs 115 crore.

Apart from this, the GHMC has allocated Rs 2,283 crore towards capital expenditure for taking up various works like land improvement, construction of bridges, flyovers, roads and pavements, construction of storm water drains and streetlights and other works.

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