| Store employees play cricket at Mauryalok, where the shops were shut on Wednesday in protest against alleged misuse of maintenance funds. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Mauryalok Shopkeepers’ Association members on Wednesday kept shutters down of their stores in protest against the civic body’s alleged maintenance funds anomaly.
The commercial hub sported a deserted look throughout the day. Barring employees of the government offices in the complex, nobody was allowed inside it.
The shopkeepers alleged that the civic body had been collecting taxes from them but no maintenance work was done in the shopping complex over the years.
“We have been demanding a renovation of Mauryalok Complex over the past five years but nothing has happened so far. We had to resort to this daylong closure because of Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC)’s complete negligence,” said Rajesh Kumar, the president of the association.
He said: “The civic body has been collecting taxes from us under the maintenance head but no work has been done for the past three decades. Funds to the tune of around Rs 45 lakh have been withdrawn but there is no record of its utilisation.”
The shopkeepers had barricaded all the five entrance gates. No vehicles, except those of employees of the government offices at the complex, were allowed entry. While several members of the association staged a demonstration, some played cricket.
There was a meeting between the association members and the mayor, commissioner and senior officers of the PMC.
But the shopkeepers did not appear satisfied with its outcome.
“The commissioner said the renovation plan was under consideration of the civic body and needs to be approved by the empowered standing committee and the PMC board. On our demand of a probe into utilisation of the funds, the civic body failed to give us any satisfactory answer,” said Rajesh.
The association president’s peers joined him in airing their grievances on the dilapidated condition of the complex.
“The complex is in a bad shape at present owing to lack of maintenance. The plaster in the external facade is peeling off and the masonry work has been damaged. The electrical wires should be replaced. There is hardly any toilet, forcing people to urinate in the open. The internal roads of the complex have developed potholes. Most of the open spaces are encroached,” said Sunil Verma, owner of two shops in the complex.
Several shoppers returned empty-handed owing to the closure of the complex. But several of them supported the association’s demand of renovation.
“I had come to buy a sari for my wife from one of the shops. It was disappointing to find the shops closed. Despite the inconvenience, I think there is an urgent need of renovating the entire complex, including a proper parking lot,” said Subodh Kumar, a frequent visitor to Mauryalok Complex.