Solan, October 1
A controversy has arisen over the grant of Thodo Ground here to a local NGO by the civic body for an eight-day trade fair and cultural events at subsidised rate instead of charging Rs 50,000 per day.
A slew of activities such as music competitions, food festival and various stalls and swings would be set up during the fair that began today.
The organisation had approached the Municipal Corporation (MC) for providing the ground at a subsidised rate but their proposal was not accepted.
The issue was referred to Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department, which cited Section 44 of the Municipal Corporation Act and directed the MC not to charge them commercial rate.
Punam Grover, mayor, Solan Municipal Corporation, while terming the decision as incorrect said, “A resolution was passed in the General House of the civic body in 2022 to charge rent of Rs 50,000 per day for every commercial activity. The income earned through rent is used for development works.”
“The direction issued by the Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department, on September 25 is in violation of Section 44 of the Municipal Corporation Act, as the ground can be rented out for merely religious, cultural and sports activities at a subsidised rate of Rs 500 per day,” said Punam Grover.
She said no such activity has been permitted on subsidised rates till now on the ground. “Since the Dynamic Yuva Mandal will set up 80 commercial stalls which would be sold for Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000 each and those using the swings would also be charged, the organisation will earn in lakhs and it did not fall under Section 44 of the MCA.”
She said the civic body had earned Rs 33 lakh from swings installed in the ground during the three-day Shoolini Fair and an eight-day activity would earn much more.
“A review petition has been filed before the Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department, as it was a purely commercial venture where the events are sponsored by various organisations. A request has been made to withdraw the said directions,” Grover said.
Mukesh Sharma, who represents the NGO, said the fair is held on a self-sustainable basis where the money earned is spent on holding musical nights and sporting events. A sum of Rs 2 lakh has been deposited with the civic body till now.
The Solan civic body appears to be divided over the issue as two councillors are also backing the NGO. Mukesh Sharma is the chairman of Jogindra Co-operative Bank.
Violation of Section 44
The direction issued by the Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department, on September 25 is in violation of Section 44 of the Municipal Corporation Act, as the ground can be rented out for merely religious, cultural and sports activities at a subsidised rate of Rs 500 per day. — Punam Grover, Mayor, Solan Municipal Corporation
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