The Public Libraries in the city suffer as Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike hasn’t released cess from the past six years.
The public libraries in the city have no recent books or infrastructure for book lovers. This has been a reason for apathy to many readers.
Shruthi Raghu, a student, said, “There aren’t any good books available in the libraries. Most of them are old and damaged. Many public libraries in the city don’t have proper facilities like seating areas or other infrastructure.”
According to the Karnataka Public Library Act, Section 30 and 31, corporations are supposed to levy six per cent cess on property tax collected from the state to the Department of Public Libraries.
The Department of Public Libraries, however, says they have not been able to upgrade the libraries due to insufficient funds.
Satish Kumar, Director of the Department of Public Libraries, said, “The BBMP has not been paying the cess from the past five years. It has now, come up to almost Rs. 450 crores. We need the money to renovate the libraries, to buy new books and also for the overall maintenance.”
The BBMP, however, says they will be paying the libraries soon.
Ramachandra Gowda, Chief Account Officer at BBMP, said, “We are still calculating the exact figure for property tax collected last year. We will definitely pay the libraries. We will be paying them in phases.”
According to the law, the BBMP is obliged to release funds every year.
Rajendra Desai, a lawyer, said, “The fee for the library that is collected through the property tax is a fixed amount. Therefore, the BBMP cannot use it for any other purposes like construction or other public infrastructure. It has to be given to the libraries for their development. The cess needs to be paid to the Department of Public Libraries, according to the Public Library Act, every year.”
If the BBMP clears off the pending cess, book lovers are hoping to find a better collection at the libraries.