Mangaluru, Jan 22, 2016: Two instances reported from Mangaluru recently have raised question marks about the efficiency of our government departments and local administration, despite the government’s so called maximum efforts to make them more accountable and their functioning efficient and transparent.
The first instance was pertaining to the suspension of garbage collection works all of a sudden by the contract agency in Mangaluru while the second case was pertaining to the court decree ordering attachment of the property of Assistant Commissioner’s office over non-payment of compensation.
Just when Mangalureans had a feeling that the longstanding garbage problems of the city have found a solution in the Advanced Solid Waste Management System introduced a few months ago, the contract agency Antony Waste Handling Pvt Ltd which was entrusted with the responsibility of door to door waste collection had on January 5 suspended garbage collection works all of a sudden. The piled up wastes on roadsides naturally raised concern among Mangalureans and soon there was news that the failure of the Mangaluru City Corporation to clear the dues it owed to the company was the reason for the same. If the company initially claimed that the MCC owed Rs 10 crores, later at a meeting convened by the MCC, the company representative said the due amount was Rs 6 crores, while MCC claimed that it owed only Rs 3 crores. But for the good luck of Mangalureans, the impasse ended the very next day, thanks to the intervention of local MLA J R Lobo. Meanwhile, while paying Rs. 2 crore that was pending, the Mangaluru City Corporation had issued show cause notice to Antony Waste Handling Cell Private Ltd. for stopping door-to-door collection of garbage without any intimation. In fact, this was the third time the firm had stopped collection of waste in the recent times.
The MCC meanwhile was of the argument that works as prescribed in the agreement were not being done by the company. "The agreement states that mechanised sweeping of roads as well as footpath and drainage cleaning works have to be taken up while in reality no work is done except door to door collection of wastes," Deputy Mayor Purushottam Chitrapur had complained.
On the other hand Corporation Commissioner H.N. Gopalkrishna had something else to say. According to him inadequate collection of solid waste management cess was one among the several reasons for the delayed payment of service charges to Antony Waste Handling Cell Private Ltd. Though the solid waste management cess is being collected along with property tax since 2015-16 , as against the expected Rs. 55.65 crore as property tax and Rs. 15 crore as solid waste management cess, the corporation has received Rs. 30 crore and Rs. 4.51 crore, respectively, he says and adds that MCC has paid Rs 17.69 crore to the company since February last.
Even in April last year, Antony Waste Handling Pvt Ltd threatened to end the contract of waste handling for corporation failing to clear the pending Rs 3.51 crore bill amount to the company.
In another major development, that would have otherwise landed the AC office in Mangaluru in embarrassment but for the hurried release of funds by the government, the city court had ordered attachment of the office property over non-payment of compensation to a woman who had lost land for the airport expansion project. A civil court in the city had passed a decree in favour of Christine D’Souza who was among the 77 people who had sought additional compensation.
But, following a special request from the DC, the government had hurriedly released Rs. 34 crore of additional compensation pertaining to 77 cases.
The land losers had approached the court way back in 2006 seeking enhanced compensation for their land acquired in 1990. Meanwhile, Christine D’Souza filed a petition seeking execution of the decree of the city court.
In March 2011 too the civil court had similarly ordered attachment of the office property of the Assistant Commissioner of Mangalore taluk for not honouring court orders to pay revised compensation to the people who lost lands to Mangalore Airport expansion project.
What does these two cases indicate? Why is it that there is an inordinate delay in execution of such tasks which ought to have been taken up on a priority basis? When the MCC has taken up such an ambitious solid waste management project, it has to take all possible steps to ensure that the system proceeds smoothly without any hurdle and that all payments are made on time while also ensuring that the company too sticks to the conditions laid down in the agreement.
Even in the AC office case, the authorities ought to have pursued the case and ensured payment of compensation to the affected families who have been waiting for years together after their lands were acquired in 1990. Had the AC office pursued the matter and ended the impasse over higher compensation, certainly there would have been no room embarrassment as happened recently when court officials arrived for attachment of property.
It is high time, the government make its departments as well as local bodies more accountable and committed to ensure such instances do not recur in the future.