The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mayor eyes fresh UK loan to trim civic flab

The civic authorities have decided to approach the British department of financial infrastructural development (DFID) for additional aid to trim its huge “idle” workforce. The DFID had already allotted Rs 320 crore to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) to tone up its administrative infrastructure.

“I have decided to ask them for more aid so that we can get rid of the unproductive and surplus workforce in the CMC. For implementing a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), we need at least another Rs 500 crore,” said mayor Subrata Mukherjee on Monday.

If the workforce trim can be implemented, the civic roll strength will automatically come down to around 25,000. That will mean an annual savings of Rs 150 crore to the civic exchequer, said an accounts officer.

Earlier, the Asian Development Bank, too, had stressed on the importance of fewer employees and better pay-packets as a pre-condition for sustainable growth in civic infrastructure facilities.

Presently, the civic body, whose annual budget is Rs 600 crore and revenue-earning from taxes comes to Rs 170 crore, employs 46,000 employees.

There is an annual gap of Rs 70 crore between the CMC’s earnings and expenses towards pay-packets, which adds up to Rs 240 crore a year by way of salary and bonus, pointed out the mayor.

“I may become unpopular by stating these hard facts and the political compulsions of the state government may not allow me to implement a VRS, but sooner or later, someone will have to admit that the institution cannot be run with the present set-up,” Mukherjee stressed.

“There are several thousands in the CMC who have no work at all, apart from others, who have neither a desk nor a chair, in the departments they are posted in,” disclosed Mukherjee. Besides, there are over 20,000 civic employees, said Mukherjee, who manipulated their birth certificates at the time of recruitment in the CMC. These employees took considerably longer than their colleagues did to attain the age of super-annuation.

These 20,000 “word-of-mouth” appointees of the 1960s and 1970s, were either illiterate or school dropouts, and had no documents from any recognised authority to prove their age, the mayor said. “For New Market alone, 170 sweepers had been assigned and none of them earn less than Rs 5,000 a month,” he added.

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