BMC promises animal-friendly city with faeces-free streets
Sitaram Kunte presented this year's budget of Rs 27,578.67 crore yesterday; plans include replacing octroi with new tax, attracting big companies for road works, improving sanitation, ridding streets of banners, and creating a separate animal welfare department
Residents may hazard an optimistic attitude about their city this year, as administrators in the civic body have decided to focus on completing their ongoing projects rather than taking on any ambitious new ones for the financial year 2013-2014.
BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte released the estimated budget for the year 2013-2014 yesterday before the standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale. The budget this year is Rs 27,578.67 crore, a small rise from last year’s figure of Rs 26,580.94 crore.
MiD DAY had reported yesterday that the BMC has failed to complete many of its projects, which have been delayed for (‘BMC still has many promises to keep’). This year, the corporation is planning to focus its energies and funds on making the city cleaner and less of an eyesore.
Over the next five years, the civic body had vowed to rid the city of its hideous banners and make open defecation on the streets a thing of the past, in cooperation with politicians and various government bodies. The BMC also has plans to start a separate animal welfare department, which will look into their needs and address issues related to the city’s animal community.
The civic body also has also planned to replace octroi with ‘local body tax’ (LBT), with effect from October 1 this year.
In the new budgetary plans, the BMC plans to attract big companies who can bid for the road works, something that it avoided earlier. The corporation has increased the package size of individual tenders to Rs 150 crore, with this intention. Earlier, the tenders used to range from Rs 20-30 crore, which corporators claim led to cartelization of certain contractors, making them complacent and making quality of work shoddy.
No more faeces?
One of the new projects in the pipeline for the BMC is to provide more toilets and arrange for sanitation in slums, to make defecation on roads unnecessary. The corporation is trying to obtain no-objection certificates from various state government bodies that look after railways, forests, and airports. Approximately 9,000 toilet seats have been made, and 2,646 seats have been ordered from various contractors.
As per the government directives to the BMC, octroi needs to be replaced by local body tax. The administration has promised to boost a business-friendly image of the city and remove hurdles associated with the current system of octroi collection. The administration’s present cash flow system is likely to change, as it will get revenue at the end of every month in the new system. A detailed study is yet to be conducted to check the viability of the new system before it is implemented.
The civic body is planning a number of pet parks. In addition, matters related to animal welfare will be managed by a separate department dedicated to the task. As of now, the executive health officer handles matters related to the animal community.
Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte said, “LBT has to be levied, and a proper study is going to consider whether it will generate same the revenue as the octroi did. Only then will it come into force. There is a need to have an animal welfare department to ensure that the animals are treated ethically.”He added, “The city needs a facelift, and making it free of open defecation is very important. We plan to achieve this goal in cooperation with various government authorities. We also plan to make the city banner-free we should be in the position to achieve this with help from politicians.”