News & Press Releases
BMC to raze govt quarters for market expansion
The state government has decided to demolish 43 police quarters to facilitate the proposed facelift of Unit-I market, commonly known as Rajdhani Haat.
The quarters, which house 23 police personnel, are located behind the haat, the biggest in the city. "Occupants need not worry as they will be given alternate accommodations. It is imperative to raze the quarters for expansion of the haat," Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner, Sanjib Kumar Mishra said. "We will co-ordinate with the general administration department and police to take possession over the land," he added.
The civic body plans to rope in a private developer for razing the quarters, most of which have been illegally rented out to market vendors, who have converted these into warehouses. There are many unauthorized commercial establishments inside the market. About 387 vendors pay civic tax. BMC collects nearly Rs 4 lakh revenue annually from Unit-I market.
The crammed daily market, which lacks hygiene and fire safety, will be converted into a four-storey market complex with parking facilities. The project plan also includes 1,400 kiosks to accommodate vendors. Though BMC's official list pegs the number of traders at 1,053, in reality around 3,000 vendors had occupied shops, locally called pindis, in and around the sprawling 10-acre market.
As per the plan, first floor of the new market complex will be allotted to vegetable vendors and other floors will be for traders dealing in electronic goods, stationery and utensils. The building will also have eateries and other facilities for recreation.
The delay in implementing the project, which was mooted in 2010, was due to land acquisition problem and resentment by a section of vendors, who feared displacement.
The market was inaugurated on April 11, 1958. The general administration department was custodian of the market from 1962 till October 9, 1984, when its management was transferred to BMC.
Job scheme huge hit with urban youths
A state initiative for employment training has received a huge response from poor urban youths. The government had planned to impart training to 7,600 urban youths for placement in different sectors under Swarna Jayanti Sahari Rojgar Yojana (SJSRY) for 2012-13. However, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) said it has received more than 9,000 applications.
"We have received applications beyond the target, which is a good sign," said Binay Kumar Das, BMC's Assistant Commissioner (SLUM).
Das said the scheme is open for 18-year-old youths living in BMC area. The applicants must also have a BPL card to be eligible. "Now, we are verifying the applications to check if the respondents fulfil the eligibility criteria. As of now, we have verified 687 applications and out of them, rejected 258," he added.
The state government has empanelled 27 training institutes for the initiative. Of these, Hari Telemetric Private Ltd (HTPL) will provide training in sales, marketing and tailoring sector, and Apparel Training and Design Institute will do likewise in fashion designing. "Most of the training would be carried out in government institutes with of good track record. There a few private institutes, whose credentials have also been checked," Das said.
The institutes are also likely to impart training for skill up gradation on computer learning, security watch, driving, mason, food processing, tailoring, mobile handset repair, leather work, appliqué, candle making etc. There will be a registration form for further training and placement. The desirous youths will fill up the forms as per their choices.
"The youths will be linked to different institutes based on their choice of trade in their applications. The state-level nodal agency, State Urban Development Agency (SUDA), will monitor the training. The Orissa Rural Marketing Society (ORMAS) will do the post-training tracking to check whether the youths find the placement benefitting them or if there are bottlenecks," said the Asst. Commissioner. All the details would be noted and sorted out, he added.
In order to sensitize the beneficiaries towards the scheme, BMC had conducted a Skilled Training Education Programme for Urban poor (STEP-UP) mela on October 19.
The BMC had also launched a nine-day sensitization programme in all the 60 wards. Since 2009, BMC has provided skill up gradation training to 551 beneficiaries in government-run and government-identified institutions. Last year, there were 36 empanelled institutes. This year the number of empanelled institutions is less because of change of focus from mere skill up-gradation to placement-link training.
Kochilai Haat to come under municipal corporation's wing
Kochilai Haat, the biggest daily market of Rasulgarh area, would soon come under the administrative control of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC). At present the market is being managed by the local vendors association.
"We already discussed the matter with the association and would take control of the market soon," BMC commissioner Sanjib Kumar Mishra said. The 15-year-old market, spread over nearly four acre land, is home to around 500 vendors.
The prime purpose of taking the market under its fold is that the civic body is not receiving any revenue from the market despite rendering service, sources said. BMC mayor A N Jena said BMC is incurring a huge expenditure without any financial return.
"As a matter of obligatory gesture of BMC, two tractors with staff are being engaged daily to lift garbage from inside and outside the market. But BMC is not getting any licence fee from the haat," Jena said.
Significantly, the corporation had earlier tried to convince the private management to hand over the market's control to the former to augment its resources and develop requisite infrastructure. But there was some resentment among vendors at that time. "Now we are convinced and ready to allow the BMC to control the haat. We hope that the sanitation scenario would improve," said market president Ashok Kumar Routrai.
There is another reason why the vendors agreed to pass on the management control to BMC. "The market was built on government land. We apprehend that the government might throw us out anytime. If we come under BMC control, our shops will be safe," Routrai added
Currently, the BMC manages a total of 13 daily and weekly markets in the state capital and generates around Rs 50 lakh revenue annually from collection of licence fees.
Dressing up Rajmahal flyover
Rajmahal flyover becoming an eyesore because of defacement may soon be a thing of the past. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning to beautify the landmark property in public-private partnership mode. Some private parties have already evinced interest to beautify the busy crossing and the flyover. "We are likely to go for an open tender in association with the public works department," BMC commissioner Sanjib Mishra said.
Mishra also said the civic body will ensure that the flyover is not left to fend for itself after beautifying it once. A mechanism will be in place for long-term maintenance. Besides, action will be taken against those disfiguring the flyover walls, he said.
SAM, a private organization, has submitted a proposal to develop the space with advertisement rights for 10 years. "The organization has applied for contract to develop the space. As per its plan, it will create water fountains and lawn below the flyover. It will put up glow sign board for which it will charge fee from the advertisers and pay licence fee to the BMC. It will also maintain the area during the contract period," said the commissioner.
Since multiple players are interested, BMC will take an appropriate decision to select the right player, Commissioner added.
Sri Lankan civic body to visit Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation
A 10-member team from Kotte Municipal Corporation from neighbouring Sri Lanka is slated to visit Bhubaneswar as a part of a 'Sister City' exchange programme. Kotte civic body is only 14 years old and is interested in learning from the practices adopted by Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Sri Lankan mayor Ranawaka along with nine other officials, arriving on November 25, will visit the BMC and some places of Buddhist interest here.
The Sri Lankan civic body came to know about BMC from an NGO 'Practical Action Group', which facilitates linkage between foreign civic bodies, said BMC commissioner Sanjib Kumar Mishra. "The NGO furnished the information about our corporation to Kotte, following which they contacted us," said the commissioner.
"Kotte is interested in knowing about the sewage, water treatment plant and funding sources of the BMC. Besides, they also plan to visit Buddhist sites at Lalitgiri," the commissioner informed, adding the BMC will also quiz the visiting team about practices and procedures followed in their corporation.
Solar rickshaws to power green city dreams
Rickshaw pullers in the city may soon join the green brigade. With a view to promote clean energy transport, the state government is exploring the feasibility of promoting solar-fuelled rickshaws in Bhubaneswar, which can drive up to a speed of 35 km per hour.
Christened as 'Soleckshaw' and designed and promoted by Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), the non-polluting tricycle was introduced in several metros, including Delhi recently.
The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has invited CSIR-recognized dealer HBL Power System Ltd and its strategic partner Prabhadeep Industries Limited to show a demonstration of the vehicle on November 30. "We have heard of the solar rickshaw becoming popular in Delhi, Chandigarh and some other cities. If the vehicle has green features, we will also promote it in Bhubaneswar," BMC mayor A N Jena told.
The rickshaw, which can be driven by solar-powered battery, can carry nearly 250 kg of load. "Solar energy apart, the battery can also be charged by electricity. When the battery backup goes out, the driver can use the pedal," said HBL vice-president (Odisha and Chhatisgarh markets) Sanjay Parija.
"The tricycle is used for commuting small to medium distance. In Delhi and other places, the concerned state government has been providing subsidy to poor rickshaw pullers to purchase the vehicle," said Anand Parija, a functionary of Prabhadeep Industries. "We would urge the BMC and transport department to help rickshaw pullers purchase the eco-friendly tricycle through subsidy," Parija said. The price of the two-seater Soleckshaw, which is manufactured in different models, starts from Rs 70,000. Apart from ferrying passengers, the tricycle can be used to transport goods and garbage.
Rickshaw, which until a few years ago was a major medium of public transport in Bhubaneswar, has almost vanished from the streets after being outnumbered by auto-rickshaws and city buses. Only around 150 rickshaws are now available at railway station.
BMC seeks nod to collect holding tax at old rate
Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation has sent a letter to the principal secretary, housing and urban development department, seeking permission to follow the old rate of holding tax as dues mount up to Rs 10 crore.
BMC's revised holding tax rate was stayed by the Orissa high court following a petition by Confederation of Citizens' Association , Bhubaneswar. The civic body could not collect holding tax following the court order.
"We have sent a letter to the principal secretary, H&UD department, to allow us to collect holding tax, which has been pending since August 2011, at the old rate. The notification for new holding tax rates was given in December 2010. But after the citizens' forum moved the high court against the increased rates, it has since been stayed," said K P Pati, deputy commissioner, BMC.
The civic body's decision to raise holding tax 20 times was met with sharp reactions from the citizens. "The old rate for residential houses per 100 sq ft was Rs 48 but the new rate for the same area is fixed at Rs 988, about 20 times. Since the new rate was not implemented, we are again going to collect tax on the basis of old rates," said Pati.
A rough estimation shows BMC has not collected tax from at least 20,000 holdings - including residential, commercial, hospitals, hotels and other government and private establishments - since August 2011. Barring the tax asses
sment for 20,000 holdings, present demand for tax is Rs 30 crore, for which assessment has been done.
Sources said BMC had been following holding tax as per the valuation in 1976, which evaluated the tax at Rs 13.65 per sq m. Last year, BMC collected holding tax to the tune of Rs 20 crore.
BMC plans to launch new online service centres
Bhubaneswar : Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has its way to provide services in effective & efficient manner. Citizens from remote areas will not need to visit the corporation office to pay various utility bills anymore. For the convenience of citizens, the civic body has decided to roll out its services through Odisha Online Service Centres (OOSC) at various locations.
In the first phase, the OOSC cells will function at six locations - BMC office campus, Yatri Niwas (Cuttack Rad), Saheed Nagar Kalyan Mandap, Chandrasekharpur Kalyan Mandap, VSS Nagar Kalyan Mandap and community centre (BDA housing colony, Laxmisagar).
The OOSC project will be implemented by Odisha e-Governance Service Limited (OeSL), a special purpose vehicle formed by Odisha Computer Application Centre (OCAC). The centres will provide a single window facility for multiple services like registration and issuing birth and death certificates, reservation and cancellation of marriage mandaps, payment of electricity bill, water tax and holding tax.
"Initially, citizen services related to urban local bodies will be disseminated to people. OeSL has chosen the municipal corporations of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Berhampur on a pilot basis," senior officer of OeSL Shanti Swarup Mohanty told TOI. "Subsequently, we will integrate the services of other government departments with OOSC," Mohanty said.
At present, BMC offers online services like citizen grievance, application for marriage certificate, birth and death certificate, BMC tender, Kalyan Mandap reservation, mahayatra (hearse reservation), online cesspool emptier and water tanker reservation.
Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation contractors under e-scanner
Contractors undertaking civic works in the city can no longer take the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and residents for a ride, nor will they need to grease palms of officials to get their payments cleared.
In yet another e-governance initiative, the civic body is all set to start a contractor and supplier management system (CSMS), which will help monitor progress of work in various projects in a transparent manner, check on contractors' credentials and make payments in a seamless manner.
"We are planning to launch the system after the puja vacation. Work is in an advanced stage of completion," BMC commissioner Sanjib Mishra told.
Under CSMS, the contractor/supplier will be given a unique identification number after registering their details with the BMC, such as name, trade licence, address and bank account number. "They can use the same unique ID for all future business with the BMC. With the ID, BMC can figure out past work records of the contractors and whether they were blacklisted earlier.
A work details portal under the new system will show the work undertaken by contractors in all the 60 wards, its concerned departments in BMC, funds allocated and source of funding.
After completion of a particular work, the system will generate bills after which BMC will transfer the amount to the bank account of the contractor and the supplier concerned.
"This will eliminate unnecessary delay in payment to contractors as the status of work files can be easily known. There will be greater transparency as officials can neither hold payment of those who complete work on time nor show favours to dubious contractors," the commissioner said.
The system shall provide easy storage and retrieval of information and allow daily and periodic monitoring of projects easily. "The latest system will make the job of providing information sought under Right to Information Act easier. It will also make audit process hassle free.
People can also keep an eye on various projects through the system. "One can easily know which ward got maximum funds and which the lowest over a particular period. This will bring transparency in fair distribution of funds across all wards," said Siddharth Pujari, principal consultant of IT project management unit of the civic body.