The three percent cess collected by the BBMP is not paid entirely to the Central Relief Committee that houses beggars in the city.
Bengaluru: Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is yet to pay Rs 118 crore to the Central Relief Committee (CRC) that takes care of beggars in the city.
According to a CRC official, the BBMP is supposed to pay a certain amount of money to the centre every quarter for maintenance and since 2008, the balance to be paid has amounted to Rs. 118 crores. “Although we don’t have immediate issues in infrastructure and development, we’d still like to be paid the amount that’s rightly ours, after all, it belongs to the citizens of the city, isn’t it?” he asked. He added that they ask for the amount every year but they are yet to get it.
The Budget report of the BBMP (the latest available) states that for the year 2017-18 the BBMP received Rs. 47.67 crores as beggary cess. Out of that, only Rs. 21.15 crores has been paid to the CRC. The rest Rs 26.52 crore is yet to be paid.
However, this report states that the BBMP did pay Rs. 50 crore to the committee in 2019 after an order was passed by the Lokayukta Justice P Vishwanatha Shetty.
M Venkata Chalapathy, Joint Commissioner (Revenue) of BBMP said that the corporation is facing a cash crunch to pay off the money. “We don’t have sufficient money to pay staff salaries, paying money to CRC will take time,” he said.
The rehabilitation centre in Beggars’ Colony on Magadi Road houses 679 people (178 women and 501 men). According to the Karnataka Prohibition of Beggary Act, 1975, the BBMP is liable to collect cess from the residents of the city for the welfare of beggars on the streets. The idea is to prevent them from begging on the streets and make them self-reliant to eke out a living. . “Beggars who are picked from streets are given vocational training in agriculture, horticulture, handlooms and they are trained to look after themselves. We only keep them for a maximum of three years, but we pay them Rs. 75 a day for the work they do here,” said Shalini, a counsellor at the CRC.
Rajanna, looked a little different from the rest of the inmates as he did not don a uniform. He heaved a sigh of relief as he said that he is happy leaving the CRC after one and a half years. “They pay the inmates for the work they do only at the end of the year. If they leave before that, they won’t get any money. It’s a problem, you see,” he said. According to him, they put the daily wages in each person’s account at the area post office, and if any inmate leaves before completing one year, whatever they earned, they would not get it. He could not explain the reason. “I was picked up from a bus stand for no reason, and finally after a year and a half, I’m free,” he said giving a toothless smile.
Kathyayini Chamaraj, Executive Trustee of CIVIC, an NGO that works on urban governance in the city said that the CRC doesn’t have resources for beggars’ welfare. “It does not have better facilities because of less money, inmates are not happy about food, most of them leave and go back to begging, this is a major problem they face,” she said.
Narendra Naik, professor of sociology at Kamala Nehru College in Shivamogga said that Lokayukta should regulate and solve these problems. “This is a problem with government-run centres, they don’t pay the money on time and these rehabilitation centres bear the brunt of it and we all know some amount of corruption is involved,” he said.