Bigger budget, but same old promises

Mar 21, 2012, 08:11 IST | Sujit Mahamulkar and Rinkita Gurav

The richest civic body in the country presented its Rs 26,000 crore-plus budget yesterday. But citizens have no reason to rejoice. Plans for basic amenities like 24-hour water supply and concretised roads are all set in the distant future. The only thing immediate: more taxes.

The richest civic body in the country presented its Rs 26,000 crore-plus budget yesterday. But citizens have no reason to rejoice. Plans for basic amenities like 24-hour water supply and concretised roads are all set in the distant future. The only thing immediate: More taxes.

Old budget in a new bottle. That's the overarching critique of the budget announced by the richest civic body in the country. The BMC budget, at over Rs 26,000 crore, has no new projects for the common man, only a list of taxes to be paid to the corporation.

How we are spending your money: Standing Committee Chairman
Rahul Shewale (left) and Municipal Commissioner Subodh Kumar
pose with the budget at the civic headquarter yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Municipal Commissioner Subodh Kumar presented a futuristic budget aimed at improving infrastructure to meet the city's needs over the coming years. The promises made are those of cement concretised roads, 24-hour clean water supply, no water logging, clean beaches, computerised services for citizens like paying taxes online, e-tendering process, developed zoos with rare species like penguins, all on the taxpayers' money.         
The commissioner proposed a hike in water charges by 14 to 57 per cent and other revised tax rates. "We expect income from the revised water charges  to pour in from July 1, 2012," said Kumar. He clarified that the production cost of the water supply has gone up. He also proposed that every year, the civic body will review the production cost and propose hikes which will be not be more than 8 per cent. 

The 24-hour water supply project has started in Mulund excluding hilly areas, and will be started in Bhandup (E), Vikhroli (E) and Ghatkopar (E) from April 2012. "Starting 24-hour water supply project in the city as a whole will take at least 5 years," said the commissioner. 

Of the total road under the civic jurisdiction, 1,540-km of lanes (3.5 m wide) have to be concretised. The civic body said it would be completed in the next 6 years. "It is not possible to complete the work in a year. Every year, we will do 241-km lanes or roads," Kumar said.  

The civic body also revised infrastructural charges to the extent of Rs 5,000 per sq m as additional development cess for built-up area by amending development control regulation (DCR) 33 (9). Trade refusal charges (TRC) have been revised commensurate with the refuse generated from the respective trades. TRC is collected from shopkeepers against sweeping and the rate depends upon the nature of the shop. A 10 per cent hike in TRC has been proposed. For new licence, one has to pay revised rates, which increased by 75 per cent. Also, shopkeepers have to pay 10 per cent more for renewal charges every year.

BMC's standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale said, "The budget presented is planned according to the city's needs in the next 5-10 years. It is a futuristic budget and would help the city in a better way after some years, wherein 24-hour water supply would be available after 5 years, concretised roads after 6 years. The commissioner has increased the sources of income for the BMC, which was completely dependent on octroi."

Thumbs down
Rayeez Shaikh, member of standing committee and corporator from Samajwadi Party, said, "The budget is for the rich. Rs 36 crore has been allotted to beautify Marine Drive, while high taxes have been proposed for people living in slums and chawls. I would oppose it."

Dilip Lande, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader in the BMC, said, "This budget is nothing but a fantasy like Mungeri Lal Ke Hasin Sapne. The civic body could not supply clean water for 24 minutes in the city, and it is talking of 24-hour water supply." He added that the MNS would strongly oppose revised water charges.
Echoing similar emotions, Asif Zakaria, Congress leader in the standing committee, said, "Nothing new is offered by the commissioner. Except for the Byculla Zoo project, no provisions for open spaces have been made. Plans to preserve the environment have not been tabled. The budget is a let-down."

Alter and amass
Before ending his tenure as municipal commissioner, Subodh Kumar wanted to have more sources of revenue. And by having certain changes made in the DCR, he has increased the revenue the BMC would rake in to Rs 3,435.49 crore from Rs 1,798.02 crore last year.

Modifications in DCR 35 speak of introducing fungible FSI in lieu of premium for allowing elevation features, balcony and pocket terraces etc with fungible characteristics. It would increase the revenue to the extent of Rs 1500 crore annually.  Amendment in Section 124 of MRTP ACT, 1966 has ensured that charges are fixed on a specific percentage of the Ready Reckoner rates, resulting in recovery of enhanced development charges where land rates are higher.

Another amendment to Section 22(m) of the act has allowed charging premium for granting permission under the exercise of discretionary power and for grant of additional FSI. DCR 32 for grant of 0.33 FSI in suburbs would result in revenue going up to Rs 375 crore annually for the next few years.

Redevelopment under DCR 33(9) for urban renewal scheme and cluster development permits additional development cess of Rs 5,000 per sq m would be collected for built-up area and above permissible FSI. Similar provisions have been made wherein MHADA would have to share with BMC, 12.50 per cent of the charges they collect. In this way they would increase the capital outlay for civic infrastructure from Rs 7637.65 crore to Rs 9359.76 crore. Rs 200 crore more will be amassed by the new capital value based property tax in the city.

>> Road concretisation of 241-km lanes at Rs 800 crore
>> Asphalting of 267-km lanes at Rs 280 crore
>> Cold mix technology for pothole treatment (Road Bond, Wonderpatch, Patchmakers)
>> Marine Drive improvement
>> 15 FOBs started and 27 bridges for repairs
>> Road maintenance management system
>> Have road scanners for mapping layers and sub-layers
>> Have sensor-based rollers

>> Increase bed strength in hospitals by 782 beds
>> Modernisation of 57 dispensaries
>> Two MRI centres and one CT scan centre
>> Dental care services in 11 peripheral hospitals

>> Virtual education in 400 classrooms
>> Water purifiers in 421 municipal and 61 private schools

Solid waste mgmt
>> 20,000 garbage bins at 10,000 locations in the city

>> Rs 43 crore for development of 13 gardens, an Esturian Park at Mahim Creek
>> Tree census
>> Rs 70 lakh for tree trimming vans

>> All works to be completed till 2015; Rs 749 crore provided.
>> Rs 50 crore for Mithi river
>> Rs 175 crore for Lovegrove and Cleveland pumping stations (work in progress); tenders for Britannia outfall invited; for Gazdharband-Mogra-Mahul, tenders would be invited

Fire brigade
>> 90-m snorkel would be bought at Rs 15 crore
>> Rs 2.1 crore for equipment such as semi-inflatable rescue boats, jet skis with trolleys, beach lifeguards towers

>> Estimated collection: Rs 7,000 crore
>> BMC collected Rs 10 crore in 11 months last year after decreasing the rate of octroi on diamonds from 2% to 0.01%; would be carrying on with reforms

Allotment of budget for 2012-13
Traffic operations, roads and bridges: Rs 1812.47 crore
Storm water drains: Rs 1325.47 crore
Solid waste management and transport: Rs 308.41 crore
Health: Rs 655.45 crore
Water supply: Rs 2479.27 crore
Sewage disposal: Rs 851.67 crore
Fire brigade and disaster management: Rs 138.72 crore
IT: Rs 130.77 crore
Market and Deonar abattoir: Rs 55.92 crore
Repairs of municipal properties & slum improvement: Rs 93.60 cr
Repairs of primary school buildings: Rs 367.01 crore
Others: Rs 1,141 crore
Education: Rs 1,697.85 crore

BMC budget '12 estimate
Income: R26,581.02 crore
Expenditure: R26,474.10 crore
Surplus: R106.92 crore
*Last year, the BMC budget was R21,096.56 crore

Mahendra Hemdev, Churchgate: Allocating Rs 36 crore only for Marine Drive, already done beautifully, is absurd when the entire road network is bad.

Peeyush Agarwal, Kandivli: It is routine to increase the budget every year, but the changes should be seen.

Rohini Nayak, Khar: Despite promises to improve storm water drains, every monsoon there is water logging. Children play in gutter water. How hygienic is that?

Noorie Baig, Bandra: Municipal hospitals use dirty equipment. We have to buy medicines from outside. Despite various schemes, we do not get anything from the hospitals.

Bhumika Dukale, Khar: The shoreline is full of garbage. People defecate in the open at Carter Road. What is the BMC doing for this?"

Sudha R, professor, says, "If the BMC is increasing water rates, the quality should also be improved. Why aren't basic amenities provided?"

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