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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

PMC on Donation spree

At the end of the every financial year, PMC declares the sponsorship and donation details. If anybody follow up the source of these organizations, which are entitled to get that big chunk of money, will observe that all the names are related to socio-political biggies of the society.

The bygone era was full of festivals in Pune. Ganesh Festival, Pune Festival, Shaniwarwada Festival, Deewali Festival, Navratra Festival and so on. Recently Mayor Mohansingh Rajpal was also in the focus regarding PMC’s donation to Sikh fraternity’s programme. Later on it was revealed that though the programme was free to masses, but few members of Gurudwara sold tickets worth Rs 500 and on. After this incident, few selected artists of an organization, which is politically strongly connected, got the money for their foreign tour. All this happenings raised many eyebrows, but as usual, nothing has happened.

Now everything is gone beyond its limits. So, few social activists and city-based NGOs come together and have appealed to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to avoid any provision for donations and sponsorships in the civic budget for 2011-2012. They do not want the civic administration to make ‘non mandatory’ expenses in the budget especially, when there is a ‘financial crisis’.

Recently, Vijay Kumbhar of Surajya Sangharsh Samiti, was quoted by the media that- It is clear that the PMC’s annual budget of Rs 3,196-crore this year will face a deficit of around Rs 800 crore. It is likely to impact the development works. In order to complete the development works next year, the PMC should stop its donation and sponsorship spree.

As per the BPMC Act, 1949 the state government has issued directions to civic bodies that institutions should not be given donations exceeding Rs 3 lakh and the total annual amount should not exceed Rs 30 lakh.

Creative Foundation has also demanded the suspension of officials involved in implementing the ‘illegal’ resolutions allowing such donations and co-sponsorships. Other organisations have also sought action against those accepting donations from the civic body.

The PMC spends nearly Rs 50 crore every year as ex-gratia to its employees. It also makes yearly donations amounting to nearly Rs 3 crore. The civic body provides funds of around Rs 2 crore for cultural festivals. Its officials and corporators spend around Rs 3 crore on commuting in special vehicles. Besides, Rs 325 crore is paid as annual salary to employees and around Rs 2 crore as honorarium to corporators.

The PMC has illegally sponsored the Asian Grand Prix athletics competition, which took place in the city in June this year by giving Rs 45 lakh for the event, alleged Sandeep Khardekar of Creative Foundation. Now citizens are demanding that no budget provisions should be made for such events. Every year, the civic budget provides for celebrations of religious festivals, funding of cultural programmes and various other awards.

On the backdrop of all these events, a day after Pune International Marathon, citizens group Sajag Nagrik Manch has demanded that the Pune Municipal Corporation must provide complete details of the expenditure incurred by it on this event in the last five years. This year the PMC had sanctioned Rs. 45 lakh for the cash prizes, trophies, mementoes, medals, kit bags, track suits and T-shirts for the marathon.

The demand to curb civic donations and co-sponsorships for festivals and celebrations is fast gaining momentum, due to the annual civic budget running into a deficit and municipal commissioner Mahesh Zagade proposing a steep hike in taxes. Now Puneite may hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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