Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) claims to be short of money when it comes to paying civic workers but seems to have funds aplenty to splurge on iPads for all corporators, documents accessed by TNM show.
Civic workers in Bengaluru have not been paid salaries for the past six months and are being pushed into financial crises and documents reveal that in March this year, the BBMP spent a whopping Rs 4 crore and bought iPads for 198 corporators.
The BBMP also spent part of this money to give corporators lessons on how to use the iPad.
When civic workers, who have been staging protests outside BBMP headquarters, demanded that they be paid for their services, officials of the BBMP claimed that the civic body was short on funds.
“They (BBMP officials) spend money on unnecessary things. They could have used that money to return funds for so many pourakarmikas. We are supposed to get Rs 15,000 per month after the provident fund is deducted. But now even after payment has been made, we have got Rs 12,600 per month. In some wards, workers have not received any money yet. The mayor has promised to pay the rest of the money in a couple of days,” says Obalapathi, President of the BBMP Guttige Pourakarmika Sangha.
Pourakarmikas of ward numbers 164 (Vidhya Peeta), 163 (Katriguppe) and 104 (Govindrajnagar) have alleged that they have not received payments for the months of November and December 2017 either.
“Before January, the payments were given by the garbage contractors. In wards 164, 163 and 104, even now, the pourakarmikas have not received their salary for the months of November and December. The contractors say that they did not get money from the government to pay us,” Obalapathi added.
According to Bill of Expenses submitted to the state’s auditor general, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his MLAs had spent Rs 2.6 crore on food and stay at the luxurious Mayura Aditya resort in Belagavi during the winter session of the Assembly in November last year.
“They can spend crores of rupees in resorts and eat expensive food but when it comes to paying pourakarmikas, they say there is no money,” says Girija, a 32-year-old civic worker from Katriguppe.
It took a civic worker’s suicide for the BBMP to release Rs 27 crore on Tuesday to pay the outstanding salaries of pourakarmikas. Even this amount, the civic workers state, is not enough to pay all the workers their full dues.
Speaking to TNM, Manjula, a 30-year-old Pourakarmika in Geetanjali Layout, says that she has not received her salary yet. She was promised a full payment within two days but Manjula does not trust the BBMP.
“A year ago, when we had all protested for our salaries, BBMP had paid only some of us and had promised that the rest would be paid within two days. The two days went on for another four months until we received payments. Until I get my salary, I will not believe what the BBMP officials say,” Manjula added.
BBMP, on Tuesday, admitted that there were discrepancies in the salaries of 3,385 workers with less than a year's experience and of 2,500 workers, who were in excess of the BBMP's calculations of the required number of pourakarmikas.
The BBMP was forced to swing into action after the death of Subramani, a pourakarmika from Ward 77 Dattatreya Temple, who committed suicide on Sunday citing financial trouble.