Tribune News Service
Ludhiana, January 20
Despite repeated objections raised in the audit reports of previous years, the MC has failed to recover rent dues worth crores from shopkeepers. An audit report prepared by auditing firm Grant Thornton states that the civic body is yet to collect about Rs 5 crore as rent from these shopkeepers.
As per the audit report of Grant Thornton, the MC has rented out 625 booths/shops, of which the rent of 469 shops is outstanding. These shops are located in Zone A, C and D of the Municipal Corporation. In 2018, the then Local Bodies Minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu, had ordered a forensic audit to check alleged irregularities in the Municipal Corporation.
It is not the first time that objections about rent outstanding towards shops have been mentioned in an audit report. Such objections were raised in the audit reports prepared by the Local Fund Account Punjab earlier too.
According to an audit report of the financial year 2013-2014, which was prepared by the Local Fund Account Punjab, the civic body had to recover rent worth about Rs 4.5 crore from various shops.
Now, questions have been raised over the role of the staff concerned as to why the rent was not recovered timely. Instead of getting the audit objections removed, the MC kept a soft corner towards many defaulters and the rent dues increased with the passage of years, according to sources.
After getting the audit report of Grant Thornton, the MC Additional Commissioner in December 2019 ordered to fix the responsibility of the officials concerned for not collecting the rent from the shops. He had also asked for fixing the responsibility of the staff concerned as the rent deeds of 379 shops were ‘missing’, as per the report.
The sources said some shops had not paid rent for more than a decade. Municipal Corporation Secretary Surinder Pal said the staff concerned was giving the sealing notices to the defaulters and carrying out the recovery of outstanding rent.
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