Bidhananagar Municipality has received money from two separate organisations for a particular parking zone in Salt Lake. Caught in the mess, officials admitted that there have been some “procedural or technical mistakes on the part of the civic body” and a probe is underway.
The controversy was kicked off after the municipality received a notice from the owners of Mishra’s bar and restaurant, in the township’s DG block, demanding that the civic body withdraw its decision to allot fee parking to a cooperative society on the spot from where the former had been collecting fees since 1996.
The notice, sent by Leelamoyee Foods Pvt Ltd (Mishra’s) to the executive officer of Bidhannagar Municipality, states that the firm was awarded a fee-parking zone on the Purta Bhavan side of Udayachal Tourist Lodge and the right to beautify the boulevard opposite Mishra’s.
The company claims it was awarded the contract on long-term lease and has been paying an annual fee of Rs 24,000 since 1996. Although the letter says that payment has been made till October 2003, the civic authorities have gone ahead and awarded fee parking on the same plot on an ad-hoc basis to a cooperative society. The company also alleges that some municipal employees have directed it immediately to stop collecting parking fees from the zone.
Municipality officials say there had been no formal contract between Mishra’s and the civic body. “There was no formal agreement with the company,” said Baidyanath Mondal, executive officer of Bidhannagar Municipality. “They have been making regular payments despite this. However, according to their proposal, which they had earlier submitted to the municipality, the contract was to be renewed after five years, which had not been done,” he said.
According to Mondal, it was decided at a meeting of the chairman-in-council that contracts for parking zones would be given to cooperative societies, instead of individuals. “The Progressive Cooperative Society won the contract for six months,” the officer said. “However, both the parties had made payments for the parking zone. It was a procedural or technical fault on the part of the department concerned that it has received money from more than one party, without going through the orders,” he said.
Four cooperative societies have been awarded fee parking zones on an ad-hoc basis for six months in different parts of Salt Lake, said municipality officials.
The Opposition in the civic body has criticised the authorities for the goof-up. “A proper investigation should be conducted,” said Trinamul Congress MLA Sabyasachi Dutta. Members of the civic body’s transport committee have also expressed their displeasure over the way such contracts are awarded.