BMC owes it to taxpayers to use its funds in time

Jan 29, 2014, 08:10 IST | MiDDAY Correspondent

Where there’s a will, there’s a way — but while the BMC has enough wherewithal to find a way to make things better in the city, its obvious lack of will is coming in the way.

India’s biggest municipal corporation with a Rs 27,000 crore budget — which is more than most state budgets in the country — lacks the gumption to do work that it can afford to. It has money stacked in its chest but doesn’t utilise it for the betterment of the city. More than 60 departments in the BMC, including those for roads, bridges, gardens and solid waste management, have failed to spend even 10 to 15 per cent of the total budget provided to them.

The civic body is more than eager when it comes to raising funds and increasing taxes — the sewerage and water taxes, for instance, increase by eight per cent per annum. However, all their zeal disappears when it comes to spending these funds on projects that could vastly improve the quality of life in the city. The footpaths are encroached upon, bridges are in a bad shape, roads are filled with pothotles, gardens are unkempt, and the illegal hawker menace gets worse by the day. The BMC has failed to address these issues, refusing to dig into its deep and heavy pockets.

The roads department, to which the BMC had allocated Rs 1545.48 crore, spent only Rs 370.39 crore, which is just 23 per cent of the total budget. The solid waste management department has not spent even 10 per cent of the budget, and only Rs 26.03 crore has been utilised from the Rs 260.95 crore allotted. The budget for the fire brigade department is Rs 160 crore, but only Rs 4.20 crore has been used in the past 10 months. The other departments have been similarly stingy, whether its health, education or gardens.

The city corporators, who control the corporation and should urge the administration to use the funds earmarked for different departments, have also failed miserably in their task. They should study the budget and bring ideas to the table about how the funds can be used well and within the time frame that they are alotted for. Delaying projects out of sheer laziness means that they will have to be completed at far greater cost in later years, thanks to inflation. This means more money from the taxpayers’ already straitened coffers.

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