PCMC chief Shravan Hardikar
Even as a clamour for the suspension of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation chief gains momentum, civic officials said it had more than Rs 3,000 crore in deposits in seven accounts of the crisis-hit Yes Bank due to the high-interest rate offered by the private lender.
“We have seven accounts —four savings and three current accounts — with the Yes Bank’s Chinchwad branch. The bank offered an interest rate of 8.25 per cent, when the other banks offered just over 5 per cent interest rate,” Jitendra Kolambe, head of the civic body’s account’s department, said.
The daily collection of the PCMC under various heads, including property tax, water tax, building permit fee and GST collection, were deposited in the seven accounts of the bank. Currently, the PCMC has Rs 984 crore deposit in the bank.
Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar, who has come under severe criticism from activists and political parties after the civic could not withdraw its deposits from the Yes Bank, where the Reserve Bank of India has capped withdrawals at Rs 50,000 per depositor, said around a year ago when reports had emerged that the private bank was facing some problem, the civic body had started withdrawing its deposits worth over Rs 3,000 crore. The PCMC, he said, has over Rs 4,000 crore deposits with other banks as well.
The civic body had reportedly tried to withdraw Rs 500 crore from the bank last week, but could not as the bank was put under the moratorium. The PCMC has now written to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the matter, Kolambe said.
While Kolambe claimed the civic body had selected Yes Bank through a proper tendering process, NCP’s Nana Kate, who is also the opposition leader in the civic House, demanded a thorough probe as to what had prompted the PCMC to open accounts with the Yes Bank.
“There is need to find out why the PCMC persisted on opening accounts in Yes Bank despite the fact that the bank had run into trouble over a year ago,” he said. Party’s Pimpri-Chinchwad unit chief Sanjog Waghere also demanded a probe into the “the entire deal that Hardikar struck with the Yes Bank”.
Rahul Kalate, Shiv Sena leader in the civic House, said, “There is a need for a thorough probe to find out why a private bank was preferred by Hardikar administration over a PSU bank. Also, there is a need to find out whether there were any directions to the PCMC administration to open such accounts with Yes Bank.”
Activist Maruti Bhapkar meanwhile accused the BJP of “handing out citizens hard-earned money to private players” and demanded action against PCMC officials. The ruling BJP, meanwhile, has been tight-lipped over the issue.
Not the first ‘problem’
This is not the first instance when Yes Bank had created “problem” for the PCMC, Assistant Municipal Commissioner Smita Zagade said. “Last year, one of the employees of Yes Bank’s contractor had siphoned off Rs 3 lakh from the collection amount of the civic body. The woman employee used to misappropriate the amount given as exemption to freedom fighters on property tax. We have since recovered the amount,” Zagade said.
An online system whereby taxes could be paid directly by citizens to a Yes Bank account has been stopped and an alternate arrangement with the Bank of Baroda has been made, Nilkanth Poman, chief of information and technology, PCMC, said.