Sena-BJP announce over Rs 9,000 crore SOP for the poor

The last budget in their five-year regime has earmarked nearly a quarter of the total funds for improvement of amenities for the urban poor, including Mumbai’s sizeable slum population

As Shiv Sena-BJP introduced their last BMC budget before the civic polls next year, there was increased focus on urban poor, particularly slum dwellers, who form a sizeable chunk of Mumbai’s voting population. Of the Rs 37,052 crore budget for 2016-17, nearly one fourth — or R9,187 crore — has been set aside for services to the urban poor.

According to the 2011 Census, over 60 per cent of Mumbai’s population lives in slums. File pic
According to the 2011 Census, over 60 per cent of Mumbai’s population lives in slums. File pic

In an unusual hike, this is over 10 per cent higher than the amount set aside last year. However, according to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, this is because the BMC needs to do more for the urban poor, who need improvements in basic amenities such as water and electric supply, health and sanitation facilities and more. “For instance, a toilet should not be used by more than 47 people, however, in Mumbai, one toilet is sometimes used by over 80 people. We will have to work for the betterment of the lives of the urban poor.”

“This time the budget for services for the urban poor has been increased by approximately 9-10 per cent, which is over the norm. Last year, around R8,000 crore had been earmarked for this,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Sanjay Mukherjee.

While the SOP for the poor, and the overall budget, met with approval from all political parties, not everyone was happy with the proposal to introduce a property tax for slum dwellers.

Mukherjee said the corporation has decided to impose a standard tax across all the slums in Mumbai. At the moment, this proposal is with the Law Committee, after which it well be sent to the state government for necessary amendment.

Medical cess for outstation patients
The budget stated that the corporation is planning to charge a fee for outstation patients who to Mumbai to for treatment in BMC-run hospitals. The budget reads that 45 per cent of the total patients at these hospitals are from outside Mumbai. This also met opposition from the Samajwadi Party and BJP.

Provision for urban poor

Gaothans, Koliwada and Adivasi Pada: Rs 27.36 crore
Adhar Kendras: Rs 2.01 crore
Upgradation of slums: Rs 610.62 crore
Improvement, management and maintenance of chawls: Rs 677.07 crore
Primary Education: Rs 2,394.1 crore
Secondary education: Rs 233.89 crore
Health: Rs 3,286.63 crore
Water Subsidies: Rs 1,844.84 crore
Others: Rs 111.43 crore
Total: Rs 9,187.95

Voices

Manoj Kotak, BJP group leader
We are happy that the budget has thought about the poor section of society. When the government is the same at the Centre, state, and in the BMC, the budget is always for the good of the common man. BJP group leader.

Rais Shaikh, Samajwadi Party group leader
There is nothing over the top in the budget; we will oppose taxes for the slum dwellers. As for the rest, the budget is fine.

Trushna Vishwasrao, House leader
We will oppose taxes on slum dwellers. We are happy with the rest of the budget.

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