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Maintaining civic body chief’s SUV bleeds exchequer

“We suspect pilferage of funds and the accounts section of the municipality has already been asked to furnish every detail on this.”

Kanchan Siddiqui | Burdwan |

A vehicle purchased barely seven years ago for use by the chairman of the Burdwan Municipality has already ‘eaten up’ more than double the money of its price on ‘maintenance’ works, apart from the cost incurred on fuel that it guzzled during the period. The civic body authorities have drawn the attention of the state secretariat in this matter.

Right after the TMC assumed charge of the Burdwan Municipality office in 2013, on 13 August 2014 it purchased an SUV vehicle spending Rs 21 Lakh from the civic body’s exchequer. The vehicle’s fitness and road tax are valid up to 11 August 2029 and 12 August 2024 respectively.

For five years, the makers of the Innova brand vehicle ensured the maintenance work of the vehicle is free of cost. However, the Burdwan Municipality has already spent Rs 55 Lakh for the maintenance of the vehicle in the last 86 months which has raised eyebrows of the present administrators of the civic body.

The vehicle was purchased for the civic body chairman for purpose of official work. During the Covid19 lockdown in 2020, the vehicle mostly remained parked and travelled barely a few kilometres, the officials said.

“It’s ridiculous! How such hefty amount of public money could be spent on the vehicle that itself is priced much less than half the amount spent on maintenance during a period of which 60 months were claimed to be covered by a ‘zero’ cost cover,” asked Pronob Chatterjee, chairman of the board of administrators of the civic body.

He added: “We suspect pilferage of funds and the accounts section of the municipality has already been asked to furnish every detail on this.” Chatterjee assumed charge two months ago and travels in the town mostly on his scooter and not in the SUV concerned.

Previously during the Left Front regime, the civic body had one ambassador car reserved for the board chairman car that cost Rs 4 Lakh. Ainul Haq, the former chairman of the civic body during the LF regime is now the deputy administrator of the civic body. He reserved his comment on the vehicle issue today.