The Telegraph
Wednesday , December 19 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Go private and earn bucks
Civic body to rent out facilities

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 18: The civic body has mooted a plan to auction the premises of two kalyan mandaps (marriage venues) here to earn more revenue.

Two open spaces designated for a town hall-cum-library and a neighbourhood market will also be given to a private operator on lease.

However, in all the four cases ownership of the land will remain with the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the income will come on a rental basis, as is the case with auctioning parking space across the city.

The kalyan mandaps of Chandrasekharpur (1.53 acre) and Unit-VIII (1.24 acre) will come under this plan, while land designated for a town hall-cum-library at Sahid Nagar (2.68 acre) and a neighbourhood market at Gautam Nagar (0.62 acre) are also likely to go to private hands.

A senior BMC land section official said: “With the public-private partnership programmes inviting trouble and criticism, this time the land ownership will remain with the civic authorities and the operator will be given the responsibility to run these facilities on build-own-operate-and-transfer mode.”

The percentage of revenue sharing on the basis of earning from each of the ventures has not yet been finalised as the things are still at a formative stage.

“However, we are going to seek permission for change in land use from the general administration department as it is the original owner of all the land in the city. The Bhubaneswar Development Authority can accord an approval to the building plans only after the permission of the general administration department,’’ the official said.

Municipal commissioner Sanjib Kumar Mishra said: “Both the Chandrasekharpur and Unit-VIII (Nayapalli) kalyan mandaps consist single-storey old-fashioned marriage venues. With the use of a multi-storey structure, the private operator can have other facilities that will also ensure more guaranteed returns for us. Our zonal offices are also being planned in these buildings.”

The land officials of the civic body are going to submit the proposal to the general administration department at the next meeting of the city management group. Every year, the civic body earns Rs 2.14 crore as rent from its various properties, including the kalyan mandaps and markets. However, with the marriage venues lying unused for about 240 days in a year, the civic body can get much more on rent through by privatising these facilities.

However, a BMC councillor said: “The civic body should be cautious about the deeds and transaction documents so that no partner can blackmail it later and demand compensation with an aim to own the whole land or its portions with tricky legal interpretations.”

Madan Majhi, councillor of ward No. 7 where the Chandrasekharpur kalyan mandap is located, is still unclear about the plan’s details. “I have to consult the authorities. Only then can I say something on it,” he said.

Ramanath Samantray, councillor of ward No. 34, recalled a resolution passed by the municipal council last year in this regard. “However, the civic authorities assured us that the land ownership will never change,” he added.

Umanath Mishra, councillor of ward No. 22, said that he had no idea of any such private collaboration with the BMC in regard to the land designated for the town hall and library in his area. “Changing the land use pattern of a particular land is a serious thing and the civic authorities should first consult the local councillors in this matter,” he said.