The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has lost nearly Rs 300 crore in management of its estate properties and vacant lands across the city over the last decade.
Deccan Chronicle cited a recent survey conducted by the GHMC, which revealed that 599 markets and 751 commercial complexes were leased out by the civic corporation body for a period of 25 years. In addition, the civic body, as per the survey, had also leased out another 1,519 markets and 121 commercial complexes for a period of more than 25 years.
But interestingly enough, the GHMC now identifies only 2,990 properties belonging to it after verifying its records. This has further made the corporation clueless about the data regarding renewal of all its leased properties.
Fraud in collecting rent
Some estate officials have been collecting rent amounts pertaining to the leased properties but not been depositing them in the corporation's accounts regularly, further leading to irregularities in the corporation's account, the news reported said quoting GHMC sources.
They also stated that total amount lost is yet to be calculated but the sum of money, whatever may be the amount would possibly run into crores.
An official working in the Secunderabad zone has been reportedly collecting rent of leased properties in that area since 2008 but has not been depositing the same with the GHMC.
This lone official has swindled GHMC of a minimum amount to the tune of Rs 6 crores. Surprisingly, civic body authorities discovered this irregularity only recently. When they questioned the official, he maintained that he could only pay Rs 30 lakh as one-time settlement. He went on to beg for mercy, since he might be sacked from duty.
Irregularities in renewing leases
The survey also revealed that GHMC is neither collecting lease rents nor calling for renewal of leases due to political pressure.
The estate wing's properties are majorly located in prime areas, including Secunderabad, Panjagutta and Chikkadpally. It was found that there are lease holders who are paying mere Rs 25 annual rent for properties for decades in such locations.
A top official working with the corporation told the newspaper that the GHMC is now planning to geo-tag these locations and map all leased properties in the notified areas. It has also issued eviction orders to all individuals and organisations who have completed the 25-year lease period but have not renewed them, the newspaper reported.
To make-up for the irregularities, the corporation also proposes to call bids for leasing out properties for a period of one year. At the end of it, the tenant will have to renew the lease every year. Information pertaining to leased properties will be put in the public domain to enhance transparency and accountability, the official said further.
At present, the corporation is looking forward to amend the GHMC Act in January that will give it power to list all its leased properties and renew rents as per the current market value, which would fetch the civic body its lost amount of Rs 300 crore.
Following the amendment, the GHMC, with regard to properties leased for 25 years, can further impose fines for arrears up to three years and only then renew the lease on properties.