Despite criticism from every quarter, the BMC seems bent on repeating last year’s dismal record of utilising only 30% of its budgeted spending on capital expenditure, which is supposed to help it provide better facilities and improve the quality of services. With one-third of this fiscal already over, the BMC has spent just 10% of this year’s allocation.
Fill ’em up: Despite craters springing up across the city, the roads department has spent only R194 crore out of its yearly allocation of Rs 2,309 crore
The situation gets graver when you factor in the code of conduct that is expected to come into force soon. With no major projects allowed to be sanctioned while the code is in force, the BMC may do even worse than last year on the spending front. BMC has made a budgetary provision of Rs 31,000 crore for 2014-15, which was approved in April. The civic body has made a provision of Rs 8,111.3 crore for capital expenditure, excluding the water and sewerage department.
Despite the budgeted capital expenditure going up by nearly Rs 2,000 crore from Rs 6,143 crore last year, the spending is nowhere to be seen. Four months into the fiscal, the BMC has spent only Rs 831.39 crore. Spending has been especially low in important departments like those for roads, fire brigade, markets, gardens, bridges and health.
The road department has a budgetary provision of Rs 2,309.1 crore, out of which only Rs 194.48 crore — or less than 10% — has been spent, despite the huge number of potholes. The fire brigade department has also spent only Rs 78 lakh from the Rs 190.53 crore allotted to it. This, despite the budget for the fire brigade being hiked to more than six times of the approximately Rs 30 crore last year.
The limited spending has come as a setback to corporators as the money spent in each of their wards is directly proportional to the work done, and reflects poorly on them if voters cannot see visible changes. The situation is especially bad for those corporators that are hoping to make the leap to becoming an MLA and are vying for seats in the upcoming assembly elections.
“After the BMC budget got passed, the code of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls came into force. The monsoon began right after that and no new projects could be started. These two things are the main reasons for the less amount being spent,” said an officer from the chief accountant's department.
Opposition leader and Congress corporator Devendra Ambekar, however, blamed the administration. “The administration has failed to do its bit. Like last year, very little of the budget has been spent this year too. Citizens are suffering because of this and the ruling party is silent on this important issue.”