Mumbai: BMC spent only 0.4 per cent of funds allotted for amenities and infrastructure

Updated: Jan 21, 2020, 07:28 IST | Prajakta Kasale | Mumbai

Out of the almost Rs 1,200 crore allocated for amenities in the new Development Plan, only Rs 5 crore has been spent in nine months; critics blame change in BMC chief for lack of progress

While BEST got Rs 1,836 crore, land acquisition projects under DP took a back seat because of this. File pic
While BEST got Rs 1,836 crore, land acquisition projects under DP took a back seat because of this. File pic

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Development Plan (DP) for the city seems nowhere near developing. On the one hand, the civic body has spent one-third of its project funding, R1,836 crore, on BEST. On the other, of the R1,198 crore set aside for implementation of the DP, it has only used R5 crore, merely 0.4 per cent, on projects from the plan.

The DP needs the acquisition of land for various infra projects and amenities like roads, schools, hospitals, gardens etc. for the development of the city. It appears that keeping the BEST on the road, or focusing on it, is derailing other projects in the DP.

Land acquisition waits
The capital expenditure statistics for the past nine months of the financial year 2019-20 show some interesting facts. The average spending percentage till December end remains between 30 and 35 per cent every year. This year, the expenditure increased to 51 per cent, not because of the completion of projects, but due to funds given to the BEST. While the BEST got R1,836-crore, the land acquisition projects took a back seat because of this.

The BEST had reduced its fares in 2019. File pic
The BEST had reduced its fares in 2019. File pic

The spending on the transport wing is really high, as it means 31 per cent of the BMC's overall capital expenses.

Property tax, development charges, compensation of octroi, water and sewerage tax are the main sources of revenue for the BMC. Due to the slowdown in real estate, the civic body is facing issues on meeting the income target through property tax and development charges. mid-day had reported that despite this, it spent almost one-third of its overall capital funding on the BEST, in 'BMC spent 1/3rd of its expenses on the BEST,' (mid-day, January 20).

Former municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta had said in his budget speech of 2019-20 that the DP is an important document from the point of view of creating assets and improving the quality of life which needs budgetary support.

He said, "In order to reduce financial strain on the budget we have introduced a very attractive accommodation reservation policy in the Development Control and Promotion Regulation (DCPR) 2034."

Why the low expenditure
But after nine months of the financial year, only R5 crore were spent from R1,198-crore allocated till December which is merely 0.4 per cent.

A senior officer with the Development Plan department told mid-day that there are multiple reasons behind the low expenditure.

He said, "While earlier the fund was reserved to buy the lands, later it was decided to acquire those lands with TDR (transfer of development rights) and not buy them. Even as per the new decision, only the plots needed for essential work like construction of roads, laying water pipelines etc will be acquired, and plots for optional duties like open spaces are not under acquisition process."

He added that the process of land acquisition was tedious and was not completed within a year as it also involved various government agencies.

"The commissioner has intentionally stopped the acquisition of open spaces in the name of the new policy. Opposition parties will ask for a white paper on it. I am very worried about the financial situation of the corporation," said Rais Shaikh, MLA and group leader of the Samajwadi Party in BMC.

'BMC insensitive towards city'
"Ajoy Mehta mentioned the importance of the implementation of the DP and set aside R2,000 crore for it. When the new commissioner arrived, the vision changed. Only R5 crore spent on the DP shows the insensitivity of the BMC administration towards the city," said Ravi Raja, leader of the opposition in the BMC, who earlier had said that the BMC administration does not have its priorities clear.

Rs 1,198 crore
Capital funding allotted for DP

Rs 4.99 crore
Actual spending till Dec 2019

Rs 11,480 crore
Allocation of total capital expenditure

Rs 5,865 crore
Actual spending till December from all departments

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