Bhubaneswar: Come November, it will be a year since the Capital city hosted the Hockey World Cup. While the world appreciated and endeared the aesthetics, the backroom boys are yet to be paid by the civic authority.
Hired to beautify the city, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) had contracted eight agencies last year to do street and mural paintings. The tender floated by the BMC said payments to the artistes would be made on the basis of painting done by them on per sq ft basis.
Sources said that the payments were to be made in two phases. While the agencies received payment of their first phase, the second phase dues have not been cleared yet. Fearing end of tie-ups with the BMC or suspension of their prospective projects, the artists have refrained from protesting.
“As a project artist we hire junior artists to complete the projects. Each of us has about 50 junior artists under us making it about 400 students altogether. We were given no advance; yet we worked at breakneck speed to complete the wall paintings within the deadline. Now that the work is done we are made to run from pillar to post for our own dues,” complained Ramesh Rao (name changed) a project artist.
Ramesh, who personally took upon himself the task of ensuring the city gives the ultimate welcome to the visitors, painted 18 portraits of hockey players under the Rasulgarh flyover in less than four days. “They asked about my commitment and I showed them but what about their (BMC’s) commitments?” Rao grumbled.
The agencies that were hired by the BMC were brought together under the Bakul Foundation. The artists included a number of foreigners. Paid at Rs 54 per sq ft, sources at the BMC said, the payments have mounted up to Rs 80 lakh. “We have borrowed money from our families and given to junior artists. Even then there is about 30% payment left to be given to other artists,” another project artist said.
Responding to this, BMC’s Assistant Executive Engineer Saroj Mohapatra said, “In past one year there has been a lot of rejig in BMC’s staff. This year we have had three commissioners and the state elections and Fani had led to shift in priorities and official rigmaroles. However, with things more stable now we have taken the issue seriously and the payments will be cleared within this month.”