The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is all set to tighten its purse strings this fiscal. According to sources, city corporators may not get the Development Fund of Rs 40 lakh each earlier allotted for bigger projects in the year 2013-14. In all, there are 227 corporators in the city and expectedly, this move has upset them across party lines.
In 2007, a Development Fund of Rs 1 crore for each corporator was introduced during Jairaj Phatak’s tenure as Municipal Commissioner. In 2011, the fund was cut down to Rs 40 lakh. This fund is in addition to the Corporator Fund of Rs 60 lakh reserved for small works like replacement of tiles on footpaths, upkeep of gardens or public toilets and the like.
The Development Fund has been mired in controversy since the allocation of Rs 1 crore in 2007. Following the uproar, the administration cut down the fund to Rs 40 lakh for each corporator. However, a citizen group has raised doubt on the extent of utilisation of the Development Fund.
Earlier, the corporator of a ward just had to send a letter to the BMC informing the authority of the project to be undertaken. Following that, the corporator would give the project to a contractor and fund the project from the Development Fund reserved for that ward.
“If the fund was being used in a proper manner, the results would’ve been evident,” said Anandini Thakoor, Chairman of H-west Ward federation (Bandra). “However, forget bigger projects, here even small problems are not solved. The citizens are not kept in the loop and there are doubts regarding the utilisation of the money.”
To eliminate even an iota of doubt, the BMC is now doing away with the fund. “Henceforth, any big proposals will have to be passed in the Standing Committee meeting,” Rahul Shewale, Standing Committee Chairman, said. “Only then will the corporators be allowed to carry on with the project and will be allotted the required amount.”
However, many corporators are not happy with the impending decision. “We need money to develop big roads and repair drains but the procedure and the paperwork involved takes a lot of time,” said Sandhya Doshi, Nationalist Congress Party corporator in Borivli (West), Gorai. Majority of MHADA layouts come under her jurisdiction.
She alleged that doing away with the fund was unfair on the administration’s part. “There are chances of the administration taking time to address our woes and the repairs getting delayed unnecessarily,” she said. The civic administration is giving final touches to the budget that is to be tabled in front of the Standing Committee on Monday.
According to sources, the budget this year stresses on completing the on-going projects. No fancy announcements or projects are expected. Hefty allotments are likely to go towards development of health projects and roads.
Rs 1 cr
A Development Fund for each corporator was introduced in 2007