Staring at empty coffers, the BJP-led Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) suffered a major setback on Monday after the state government authorities rejected the price escalation proposal towards rent levied on out-of-home (OOH) hoarding sites in the twin-city. Notably, the decision has come more than eight years after the BJP decided to escalate the monthly rents by nearly 300 percent on the virtue of their majority in the general body house in 2014.
Due to the escalations, the arrears which was pegged at Rs. 58 lakh in 2015, steadily mounted to Rs. 45 crore in 2022. However, the advertising agencies who had been awarded rights to install hoardings at earmarked sites across the twin-city, not only challenged the astronomical pricing and escalations in the court but also procured a stay from the state government’s urban development department (UDD) which created hurdles for the civic administration in enforcing recovery measures. The matter was put on the back-burner by the UDD for nearly 8 years, before municipal commissioner Dilip Dhole took charge and started follow-ups on the issue. However, the UDD in its order restrained the civic administration from imposing the rent hike.
“Our department has already recovered Rs. 5.5 crore out of the Rs. 9 crore arrears. We will try to mop the maximum arrears before March 31,” said Dhole. “We have taken many decisions to augment revenue generation of the civic body and enhance amenities for common citizens. But this decision of the state government is clearly a money spinner for contractors. This at a time when a major chunk of revenue has been spent on enhancing medical infrastructure to contain the spread of Covid-19,” said leader of house Prashant Dalvi. The MBMC has tagged licenses to nearly 350 hoardings and cantilevers, however considering the presence of illegal ones, the actual figure could be much higher.